Frank Gifford, 84, former NFL star and sports broadcaster died Sunday morning, August 9, 2015 sitting in his chair waiting to go to church. He was husband to Kathie Lee Gifford co-host of NBC’s Today Show and on Monday she shared a testimony of Frank’s faith and the impact a small stone had on him.
Frank grew up in abject poverty during the Dirty 30s where at times his family ate dog food to survive. But his mother and father believed in God and faithfully attended church through these hard times.
When Frank went on to play college ball at USC, he showed up with one white shirt and one pair of jeans.
He went on to become a star in the NFL where he played as a running back and receiver. He played in eight Pro Bowls, was installed in six halls of fame, was the NFL’s most valuable player in 1956 when his team won the Super Bowl. Frank was nominated the come-back player of the year and was the only person to play three different positions.
After he retired, Frank worked as an ABC sports broadcaster for 26 years.
On her first day back to work (August 17, 2015) after Frank’s death, Kathie Lee shared a tribute about her husband’s faith in God. Kathie Lee said Frank “strayed from his faith on occasion, but his faith never left him.”
“His world got smaller as his God got bigger. And he would want you to know that he died in complete peace. He knew every sin he had ever committed was forgiven. He had the hope he would be with the Lord and one day we would be with him as well.”
Though you saw a man who starred in life both on the football field and in the broadcast booth, the one thing that struck me was the impact a small stone had on Frank.
Kathie Lee said in the last years of his life when people came over to visit, he would sometimes let them see his trophy room filled with his awards including the bust he received when he was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
But the first thing Frank showed them was a small stone sitting among the glittering trophies.
Frank and Kathie visited Israel a couple of years back. She said that trip had a profound impact on Frank’s life. They visited the brook of Elah where David slew Goliath. Their friend Ray who was guiding them told Frank to pick up a small stone from the brook because this was where David selected five stones for his sling that brought down the giant.
Ray said the miracle wasn’t that David slew the giant but that he had faith in God to believe a young shepherd boy could defeat the Philistine champion with that stone.
Kathie Lee said, “Frank came back with a completely new perspective.”
When their daughter Cassidy graduated from high school, Frank and Kathie Lee gave their daughter a stone from the Brook of Elah and said:
“Cass, where are you going to throw your stone for the Kingdom of God.”
They did the same thing for their son Cody who graduated from college two weeks later.