Carson Daly made an emotional return to the Today show on Thursday, paying tribute to his stepfather Richard Caruso, who died on Tuesday after a battle with bone cancer – just five weeks after the his mother Pattie Daly Caruso died of a heart attack.
“It’s been a rough month for my family,” Daly, 44, explained while sitting with co-anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Hoda Kotb on the NBC morning show.
“Last time I was here I was talking about my mom, who had unexpectedly passed away. She’d been the primary caregiver of my stepfather, who passed away on Tuesday now. His health was in peril, we know that was a foregone conclusion. Mom had been taking care of Dad. Mom was the one that went so quickly, and then we lost my Dad on Tuesday. It’s just been a crazy month. It’s just been really really hard.”
Daly explained that his biological father died when he was 5, and his mother Pattie married Richard — whom he affectionately called “Pops” — three years later.
“He took us in,” Daly said. “He’s my role model, my mentor. Incredible guy. Old school — grew up in the depression. One of those guys who knew that life was going to be hard. Led by example, not by words. My mom had all the sayings and isms — you know, ‘You can shoot for the stars!’ And my dad woke up early, went to work, had a great deep personal faith that I later in life would gravitate towards. Again, led by example.”
“Family-first — we always had dinner in high school. He was like, ‘Hey, I don’t care what you do after, but we’re all going to have family dinner at 6 p.m. and then you can run off and go to the movies.’ That was dad,” Daly continued. “Drank Cutty Sark, worked hard, loved golf. Golf would be the sport that brought our relationship together. He taught me so much about life and really the man that I am. I’m grateful that I had 85 years with him. He was an incredible person.”
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When Lauer told Daly that his parents must have been proud of him, the former TLR host got emotional.
“It’s hard to grasp that considering they were both healthy in June,” Daly said. “The enormity of this, the totality of a loss so soon, is still a struggle. But you’re absolutely right, we’re so blessed to have them both. They were incredible.”
“I realize the more pain that I feel losing my parents is testament to how much of an impact they made in my life,” he added. “They clearly equipped me with the tools to be able to handle it, and that’s because they were incredible parents.”
Before the end of the segment, Daly went on to express gratitude to his Today show family. “Thanks again to everybody here,” he said. “You guys are my family, and I love you guys.”
Earlier this month, Daly returned to Today to pay tribute to his mother, who died Sept. 17.
“When she walked in this room, she lit the place up,” Kotb told Daly on the Oct. 4 episode. “There was something special and unique.”
“She also stole everything!” said Daly with a laugh. “I’m telling you, going through her things, it’s an example of how much she loved life. She literally was a kleptomaniac. If it wasn’t nailed down, she took it. I’m talking about wine corks she would write on, ash trays, menus from around the world, rundowns from the Today show. She died at 73, but she lived a life that was passionately twice as much, so she really died at 146.”
“By the way, you guys gave my mom the greatest gift ever by employing me on the Today show, so she could watch me every single morning in her kitchen, and I know that she did,” he added. “There’s no place she’d rather have me be than right back here.”
Today airs weekdays beginning at 7 a.m. on NBC.
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