"Today" co-host Hoda Kotb became emotional on air Monday morning as she spoke of her friend and fellow co-host Kathie Lee Gifford and the death on Sunday of Gifford's husband, New York Giants legend and sportscasting great Frank Gifford.

Sitting beside former first daughter Jenna Bush, who was filling in for Kathie Lee Gifford, Kotb began breaking up as she addressed her widowed friend, saying, "Kath, I don't know if you're watching, you're probably not, but I miss you and I love you."

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At another point, while speaking of the Giffords' children, 25-year-old Cody and 22-year-old Cassidy, she said, "To watch how they are . . . I have to tell you I am in awe of that whole family and -- " her voice trailed off as she choked up.

Kotb, 51, said she had just landed on a flight home from New Orleans on Sunday when she learned of Frank Gifford's death at 84. "I looked at my phone and . . . I saw a text from Kathie Lee and I looked at it -- and she left a voice mail, too -- but it said Frank had passed. And I kept reading it and rereading it and rereading it, thinking it couldn't have been true. And she asked for people not to come to her house yesterday, so I left the airport and drove to her house, and when I got there she looked at me and she said, 'I'm so glad you never listen to me.' "

Kotb became tearful and then composed herself after "Today" played a clip of Frank Gifford during one of his many visits to the program, reminiscing about the first time he had met her.