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Joe Biden, in New York on business, was the first guest on Stephen Colbert’s third show last night, and where most late night interviews are jovial and lighthearted, the chat between Biden and Colbert was sober and sincere, with Biden discussing the life of his son and how he dealt with his recent death.

After asking Biden how he, in the host’s estimation, remained unpolluted despite the impurities of Washington, Colbert prompted the vice president to tell a story about his son Beau, who died in May from brain cancer. Biden, who at points seemed to be on the verge of tears, chose to talk about the selflessness of a four-year-old Beau in the wake of the 1972 car crash that killed Biden’s first wife Neilia and his daughter Naomi, and left Beau and Biden’s youngest son Hunter in the hospital.

When he was in that accident, lost his mom and his sister, he was very badly injured, almost every bone in his body broken. He was in a cast from his ankles, both legs, his chest, his arms, I used to carry him around with a hook in his back. My other son, Hunter, his best friend, a year and a day younger, was just about three and had a severe skull fracture. You’d sit in the room in the hospital, and you’d turn and he’d say, “Hunt, look at me. Look at me. I love you. I love you.” Four years old.

After that, Colbert asks Biden to explain the role religion played in his life after that first tragedy. Biden then talks about being inspired by fellow grievers, and asks Colbert to elaborate on how his family picked up the pieces after Colbert’s father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash in 1974.

In the second part of the interview, Colbert prods Biden on whether he is going to run for president, to which Biden is noncommittal. The two also recount a story about Beau Biden from when Biden visited Baghdad.

Contact the author at jordan@gawker.com.