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Steve Harvey explains his on-air birthday breakdown

Feb. 13, 2013 at 10:02 AM ET

He's known for keeping audiences laughing and joining in the fun, but actor-comedian Steve Harvey has a serious side too.

"I can't laugh at everything," he said during a Wednesday morning visit to TODAY.

That comes as no surprise to viewers of his daytime talk show. Just last month, as Harvey celebrated his 56th birthday, they witnessed the funnyman break down when he was confronted with a familiar face from his past.

"It was my birthday, and (the producers) surprised me," he explained to Matt Lauer. "It was a guy that had helped me out when I was really, really down and out. Man, I had nothing, and this guy took me in, up in Cleveland, at a furniture store. He started teaching me the principles of success."

The man was Rich Liss, and when he appeared on "Steve Harvey" via satellite and asked "Do you still love me, baby?" he left the star in tears.

"Him and his wife (Becky) helped me out so much," Harvey recalled. "You know, look, people give me free dinners now. I walk in the restaurant, I get the best table. But I don't need that. When I needed it, no one helped me, but this guy right here."

See the full clip of Harvey's reunion with Liss below, but be sure to have a tissue handy.

Check local listings for where and when to catch Harvey's self-titled talk show, and see more from him when he co-hosts the 8 and 9 o'clock hours of TODAY on Monday.

What did you think of Steve Harvey's emotional, on-air moment? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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