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Flanked on the couch by or Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Ann Curry (who will replace Vieira) and Natalie Morales, Vieira said, "After months of personal reflection and private conversations between my family and my friends, I've decided to leave Today in June." In tears, Vieira said, "This is a difficult day for me. I'm trying hard to hold it together." Watch Vieira's tearful announcement below...
Last fall, Vieira told Ladies Home Journal that she felt "cheated sometimes" by the limitations her husband's multiple sclerosis places on their life together; this morning, she told her Today colleagues, "I know that I want to spend more of (my time) with my husband Richard and my kids Ben, Gabe and Lily."
Vieira says she will be "passing the baton" to Curry, 54, who will assume cohosting duties with Lauer following her 14-year stint as the show's news anchor; 38-year-old Morales, meanwhile, will take over Curry's spot behind the news desk.
There have also been rumors that Lauer, 53, will be leaving Today when his contract is up at the end of 2012, and even speculation that he will join Couric for a possible syndicated talk show on ABC -- but none of that has been confirmed.
Lauer -- who has laughed off rumors of his own departure -- praised Vieira saying, "(Meredith has) brought class and dignity and talent and a joy of life to this show over these last five years, and we will miss you like crazy."
Vieira -- who claims to have no designs on another full-blown anchor job, but hopes to remain a contributing member of the NBC family -- said: "I know that it is the right thing, (but) I'm really sad because for the past five years this has been my second home... I'm humbled by what a great experience this has been for me."