Hours After Frank Gifford's Death, Kathie Lee Told Hoda Kotb, "His Life is a Triumph"

Frank Gifford Kathie Lee Gifford - H 2015
AP Images

The 'Today' co-host shared how the NFL great's wife is dealing with his sudden death.

A day after Frank Gifford died, those who worked with the NFL great's wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, on NBC's Today were still mourning his loss.

During the fourth hour of Today, typically co-hosted by Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb, Kotb and substitute co-host Jenna Bush Hager spent nearly 20 minutes remembering Frank's life and his relationship with his wife.

Kotb, who got choked up a few times as she talked about her co-host's husband said she couldn't believe the news of his death when she first heard it. She explained that she was flying back from a weekend with friends in New Orleans. When the plane landed, she looked at her phone and saw a text from Kathie Lee saying that Frank had passed and she kept rereading it.

Even though Kathie Lee told people not to go to her house, Kotb drove straight there. Kotb recalled: "When I got there, she looked at me and said, 'I'm so glad you never listened to me.' "

Kotb also shared how Kathie Lee's faith seems to be helping her through this tough time.

"You know how she talks about her faith and she lives her faith, and I believed it but I didn't believe it more than I did yesterday when I saw her … because Frank had passed away hours before and she said she was rejoicing in his life. When she said it, you felt it."

She also recalled meeting Frank when she went out to the Giffords' house before she started working with Kathie Lee.

"Frank said to me, 'I know a little something about a hit show because I had one on Monday Night Football.' And he said, 'Let me tell you how you can have a hit show with Kathie Lee … You have to trust her with everything you have … She is the most trustworthy person I have ever known."

Kotb and Hager also showed clips of Gifford's appearances on the fourth hour of Today.

Earlier, Kotb stopped by the Today news desk and shared that Kathie Lee said her husband's death wasn't a "tragedy." Instead, she said, her husband was a "triumph."

"Kath said something to me yesterday," Kotb recalled. "She said, 'This is not a tragedy.' I was holding her hands. She said, 'A four-year-old girl having cancer's a tragedy.' She said, 'Frank lived to be almost 85.' She said, 'He lived an incredible life, has an incredible family and has an incredible legacy.' She said, 'His life is a triumph.' "


TODAY family remembers Frank Gifford

"His life was a triumph."Hoda Kotb and the TODAY family took time to remember Frank Gifford this morning. http://on.today.com/1Uxu9BZ

Posted by Today Show on Monday, August 10, 2015

Before Kathie Lee joined NBC's Today as co-host of its fourth hour, she spent years as Regis Philbin's co-host on what was then Live With Regis and Kathie Lee. On the current incarnation of Live, hosted by Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, the show aired the below package of clips from Giffords' appearances on that show.