Willie Geist's wife: He was 'memorable at first sight'

It's Willie Geist's first official day of co-hosting the 9 o'clock hour of TODAY, and his fellow anchors welcomed him with a look back at his life.

TODAY
Willie with his now-wife Christina, who he met in the sixth grade.

A special "Welcome Willie" segment featured testimonials from his wife, his dad, and new co-anchors, along with some choice photos and footage from his youth and early work in television (some of which he'd rather you didn't see).

TODAY
Adorable! Willie as a kid.

He's joining the crew after a long career in news, from CNN to "Morning Joe" to subbing in for Matt, all while apparently dabbling in a little amateur rapping (watch the video to see him quote the late Eazy-E; as his dad reveals, Willie "was a suburban kid who wanted to be a hip-hop guy").

TODAY
Willie strikes a pose; at Ridgewood High in N.J., he was captain of the football and basketball teams.

"I have to say your producers are beyond corruption, because there were several photos and moments that I offered cash payments for them to keep out of that piece," Willie sighed afterwards.

"We learned a lot about you this morning," joked Savannah. "We knew you got your start in television, but behind the scenes, we're sorry your rap career didn't work out."

TODAY
Willie on his first day of

But, alas, despite his inability to bribe the producers, it was a happy occasion for everybody. As Willie put it, "anybody who says being on the TODAY show for the first time isn't a little bit of a 'pinch me' moment is probably lying."

TODAY
The TODAY anchors welcomed Willie to his new 9 a.m. gig.
  • Slideshow Photos

    Way Too Early with Willie Geist

    Willie Geist

    The host of msnbc's "Morning Joe" and "Way Too Early" became co-anchor of the 9 a.m. hour of TODAY.

  • Image: 2013 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's

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    Willie Geist -

    TODAY anchor Willie Geist and his wife Christina attend the "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's" event at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York on Nov. 9, 2013. Geist's father has been battling Parkinson’s disease.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    Still kicking -

    TODAY show hosts Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Willie Geist and Natalie Morales learn how to dance like Rockettes in New York on Nov. 8, 2013.

    NBC / NBC
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    Rescue time! -

    Actress Carmen Electra and TODAY host Willie Geist reenact the opening scene from 'Baywatch' on Oct. 31, 2013. Willie Geist dressed as David Hasselhoff’s character Mitch Buchannon in TODAY's Throwback Thursday Halloween spectacular, as the anchors celebrated their favorite classic TV characters.

    NBC / NBC
  • "Summer Camp" Competition With NBC's "Today" Team

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    Ahoy! -

    Willie Geist and TODAY anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales take part in the show's "Summer Camp" competition on July 11.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Today - Season 2012

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    Meeting the fans -

    Willie Geist works the crowd on the plaza in March 2012. The host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and "Way Too Early" became co-anchor of the 9 a.m. hour of TODAY in Oct. 2012.

    NBC / NBC
  • Watch What Happens Live - Season 7

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    Watch what happens -

    Willie Geist appears on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" with Tiffani Thiessen in July 2012.

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  • Today - 2012

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    On the plaza -

    Natalie Morales and Willie Geist appear on TODAY on July 5, 2012.

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  • Willie Geist

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    'Morning Joe' -

    Willie Geist was named permanent co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" in September 2007.

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  • Today

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    In the interview chair -

    Amy Roloff, left, and Matt Roloff of TLC's "Little People, Big World" talk with Willie Geist in TODAY on Feb. 16, 2012.

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  • Willie Geist

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    On the campaign trial -

    Willie Geist talks with Mitt Romney and Tom Brokaw at Java Joe’s in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 4, 2012.

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  • Morning Joe

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    Elvis is in the building -

    Musician Elvis Costello chats with Willie Geist in the green room before "Morning Joe" on Nov. 3, 2010.

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  • Willie Geist

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    Way too early! -

    Willie on his first day of "Way Too Early," in 2009.

    TODAY / TODAY
  • Willie Geist

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    Happy family -

    On May 24, 2003, Geist married his high-school sweetheart, Christina Sharkey, in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The couple has a daughter and a son.

    TODAY / TODAY
  • Bill Geist and son Willie Geist

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    Chip off the old block -

    Author and journalist Bill Geist and son Willie Geist at Bill's Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony on April 15, 2011.

    AP / AP
  • Today

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    Author! Author! -

    Willie Geist appears on TODAY to talk about his best-selling book "American Freak Show" in October 2010.

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  • Willie Geist

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    Football star -

    Willie strikes a pose; at Ridgewood High in N.J., he was captain of the football and basketball teams.

    TODAY / TODAY
  • Bill Geist [& Family];Libby Geist;Willie Geist

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    Family portrait -

    Willie Geist was 17 when he was photographed at home with his mother, Jody (left), sister, Libby, and father, Bill Geist (right).

    Time & Life Pictures / Time & Life Pictures
  • Willie Geist

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    Adorable -

    Geist was born in Evanston, Illinois, to author, columnist, and current CBS News correspondent Bill Geist and social worker Jody Geist.

    TODAY / TODAY

Julieanne Smolinski is a TODAY.com contributor and fellow NWA fan.

More: 

10 questions for new third hour TODAY co-anchor Willie Geist

Willie Geist gets a classic Fourth Hour welcome (but declines to spank KLG)

Willie Geist to co-anchor 9 a.m. hour of TODAY

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