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10 years after Tucson shooting, Gabby Giffords continues to 'move ahead'

Just days after the nation witnessed riot inside the Capitol, the former congresswoman and her husband recall another dark day for America and for their family.
/ Source: TODAY

Gabby Giffords joined millions across the country and around the world as she watched a mob of pro-Trump supporters storm the Capitol Wednesday, in a violent riot that left five people dead. But unlike most watching the scene, Giffords had the added concern that came with having a loved one inside those halls — her husband, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly.

While he and other elected officials made it through the ordeal without injury, the fear of what could have happened was all too familiar to both Giffords and Kelly.

Friday marked 10 years since a gunman opened fire in a supermarket parking lot just outside of Tucson, Arizona, killing six people and shooting 13 others, including Giffords.

“I do think back to that day often,” Kelly told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie as he and his wife reflected on the event. “There was a moment where it was reported that Gabby had died. It was about 30 minutes. Gabby's pretty...”

“Tough,” Giffords chimed in.

Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, attend a news conference about background checks for gun purchases at the Canon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 4, 2015. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Although she was shot in the head at point-blank range, the initial reports had it wrong. She not only survived the shooting, she’s since spent years recovering from her injuries — learning to walk and talk all over again.

Still, despite how far she’s come, the 50-year-old prefers not to look back at all.

“Move ahead,” she said when asked about it. “Move ahead.”

Before the shooting, Giffords was known for stirring crowds with her words. As Savannah put it, she had “the gift of gab.”

“You were so eloquent; speaking and speech came so easily to you,” Savannah said. “And now I see that you fight for every word. You fight for it. What is that like?”

Giffords then demonstrated that, while the words are harder to come by now, she hasn’t lost her gift for saying exactly what she means.

“(It) really, really sucks," she said.

But Giffords doesn’t let the situation slow her down.

“Oh, I'm so busy,” she said of her current routine. “A lot of Zoom calls. Work, work, work. Speech therapy. Lot of homework. Yoga twice a week, French horn, Spanish lessons, ride bike, walking on my treadmill, watching movies. It's 'Groundhog Day.'”

“All over again,” Kelly, 56, added.

Something else the couple has done all over again is that they’ve made their way back to Washington, D.C.

In December, Kelly, a retired Navy captain and former astronaut, was sworn into the Senate, taking John McCain’s former seat, a political role reversal the couple never saw coming 10 years ago.

“Gabby was a member of Congress,” Kelly noted. “I often think to myself, I mean, if something would have happened to me, would Gabby have become an astronaut?”

And while he seemed to be joking, Giffords didn’t hesitate to offer up a confident “Yes!”

It’s that confidence, along with her tireless efforts to heal herself, that’s made Giffords an inspiration to so many.

To those who could use a few inspiring words these days, she offered these: “Be a leader. Set an example. Be passionate. Be courageous. Be your best.”