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Sam Champion on leaving 'GMA': 'This is harder than I thought it would be'

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On Dec. 4, “Good Morning America” paid tribute to seasoned meteorologist Sam Champion on his last day. Throughout Wednesday morning’s broadcast, “GMA” aired a variety of clips showing Sam at his most serious and his silliest too. It was a fitting send-off for Champion, who has been with ABC for a quarter of a decade. At the end of his last “GMA” broadcast, an emotional Champion, surrounded by his co-hosts, stated on-air, “This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.” He promised to always be a part of the ABC family, despite moving to Atlanta for a new position with The Weather Channel.

After a successful 18-year run at powerhouse affiliate WABC, Sam joined “GMA” in 2006, where he provided more than 1,800 weather forecasts and traveled to almost every major weather event in the country. In fact, Champion was a major contributor during Hurricane Sandy, for which ABC won the coveted Peabody Award for stellar on-air reporting.

On Dec. 2, Champion confirmed that he was leaving “GMA” for a new opportunity with The Weather Channel. According to the “NY Daily News,” Sam will host a new TWC morning show that is currently being assembled and cast. In addition, he will also assume the role of managing editor. Because The Weather Channel is owned by NBC, look for Champion to make guest spots on “Today” and other NBC shows. The seasoned meteorologist called TWC the “holy grail of weather” and said the opportunity was too good to pass up.

Ever since ABC announced Sam’s big move, co-hosts Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer, and especially Josh Elliott have been all a-twitter with compliments for Sam. Robin tweeted on Dec. 2, “Need more than 140 characters Twitter allows to express how I feel about @SamChampion. True friend and more. Excited for his new chapter.” Josh Elliott posted on Twitter, “I love you @SamChampion, as a friend and brother, and will greatly miss working with you. Through happy tears, I wish you the very best.”

On Wednesday, the sentiments continued for Sam’s farewell show. After showing numerous clips of Sam on "GMA," the gang surrounded the meteorologist for a group hug, Marry Tyler Moore style. Roberts stated, “You are a renaissance man.” She added that Sam stands for “all that is good and right in the world.” Josh Elliott, a close friend, could barely get the words out when he choked up and said through tears, “I just want to say thank you because it’s been a gift each and every day to work with you, Sam.” He joked about their bromance and pointed that despite his tears, Josh was happy on the inside for Champion and his new opportunity.

After the outward display of affection, Champion became emotional himself and stated through his own tears, “This is a lot harder than I thought it would be.” He then asked for a commercial break to pull it together. At the end of Sam’s last show, “GMA” wheeled out a giant weather cake in his honor. He then passed the torch (a pair of galoshes) to his successor, Ginger Zee, who said that she could never fill Sam’s huge shoes.

To watch “GMA” take a trip down memory lane with Sam Champion, head to ABC.com on Yahoo. To see a hilarious “GMA” moment with Sam and Josh, be sure to watch the video above and to the left.

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