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Celebrating Frank Gifford: Hoda shares generous, sweet moments from memorial

A memorial lunch hosted by the Gifford family proved to be a celebration of Frank's life and a testament to his legacy.
/ Source: TODAY

On Wednesday, Kathie Lee Gifford and her children hosted a memorial lunch in honor of Frank Gifford, who passed away Sunday at the age of 84.

Kathie Lee's friend and TODAY co-host Hoda Kotb was there for the event that proved to be a celebration of Frank's life and a testament to his legacy.

"To watch [their children] Cody and Cassidy ... speak about their dad — Cass called him her best friend and Cody talked about him being the man that he wanted to become," Hoda recalled. "It was the most beautiful thing."

And it was made even more beautiful by generous moment Hoda witnessed.

TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee Gifford appear on NBC News' \"Today\" show.Peter Kramer / NBC

MORE: Cassidy Gifford posts heartfelt tribute to dad Frank : 'I lost my best friend'

"You know how sometimes small, little gestures change everything? Well at this event yesterday, a little boy walked in — his name is Mack, he's [producer] Joanne LaMarca's son — and he walked in wearing an Eli Manning jersey, because they don't make Frank Gifford jerseys anymore."

Manning, of course, is the current quarterback for the New York Giants, while Frank was a fan-favorite running back and wide receiver for the team from the early 1950s to the mid '60s. But it wasn't long before Mack was sporting a different jersey.


"Cody went and got that jersey, which is a Frank Gifford jersey signed by Hall of Famers, and Mack wore it the whole time he was there," Hoda explained. "At the end, Joanne said, 'Let's give this back now.' And Cody insisted, 'You've got to keep that, a part of my dad."

TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, who sat in for Kathie Lee during the 10 o'clock hour on Thursday's show, was clearly moved by the story — and Frank's obvious influence.

"If you want to look at the measure of a life, you look at someone's children," she said. "By that measure, (Frank) is a giant in every way."

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