Kathie Lee Gifford Gives Tearful Tribute To Frank Gifford On 'Today'

Kathie Lee Gifford returned to her "Today" show post on Monday, her first day back since the death of her husband, Frank Gifford.

The TV vet gave a touching tribute to her late husband, who passed away on August 9, at the age of 84.

Kathie Lee began by thanking fans and viewers for the "extraordinary" outpouring of support, before sharing a bit about Frank's impoverished childhood.

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"He was born into a very different world than the world we live in today – The [Great] Depression. He was born in 1930 into a poverty-stricken home where his father was an oil worker. He ate dog food sometimes as a child and was grateful to have it," she said of the man who would go on to become an NFL legend. "He lived 29 different places before he was even in high school because his father couldn't get work during The Depression… that shaped the man that Frank became very much."

Kathie Lee said facing adversity from an early age drove Frank to work hard and appreciate the little things, in addition to his record-breaking feats.

"He knew what it was like to be hungry. He knew what it was like to literally have no clothes on your back," she said. "Even when he went to USC to play football there, he had a one pair of jeans and a white T-shirt. But it made him so grateful. Honestly, he is the most grateful human being I have ever known and that colored everything he did."

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The "Today" show co-host fought back tears while sharing the impact Frank's Christian faith had on his life.

"He would want you all to know that… [his family] had nothing, but they had their faith," she said. "Every time they moved to a new town, they'd go to church every week as a family, and that kept them together as a family through the darkest, darkest times. And, as a young child, Frank asked Jesus into his heart and that remained with him for his entire life. He strayed from his faith on occasion but his faith never left him – especially after we found each other and started sharing our faith together. His world got smaller as his God got bigger."

Kathie Lee said she takes comfort in knowing that she and Frank "laughed until the very end" and that he died knowing "every sin he'd ever committed was forgiven."

"He had the hope that he would be with the Lord and someday we would be with him as well," she said. "I just want you to know that this was a man who was at complete peace in his life. He might've been the happiest most contented person at this point in his life."

-- Erin O'Sullivan

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