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Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts was born on November 23, 1960. She is a television broadcaster and media personality, currently the anchor of the ABC morning show, “Good Morning America,” where she has been a fixture since 2005.

Robin René Roberts was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, the daughter of Lucimarian Tolliver and Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, a celebrated pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. The youngest of four siblings, Roberts grew up in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and credited her parents as cultivating the “three D’s: Discipline, Determination, and ‘De Lord.’” She attended Pass Christian High School, graduated as the class of 1979 salutatorian, and went on to attend Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana, graduating cum laude in 1983 with a degree in communication.

Roberts noted on the January 13, 2007, edition of “Costas on the Radio” that she was offered a scholarship to play basketball at Louisiana State University, but thought the school was too big and impersonal after visiting the campus. On her way back to Pass Christian from that visit, she saw a road sign for Southeastern Louisiana University, stopped to visit, and decided to enroll. The only scholarship left was a tennis scholarship, and Roberts was promised that there would be a journalism scholarship by the time she would graduate.

Roberts went on to become a standout performer on the women’s basketball team, ending her career as the school’s third all-time leading scorer (1,446 points) and rebounder (1,034). She is one of the only three Lady Lions to score 1,000 career points and grab 1,000 career rebounds. During her senior season, Roberts averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game. On February 5, 2011, Southeastern hosted a ceremony to retire Roberts’ number 21 jersey.

Robin Roberts used her unique combination of athletic talent and journalistic skill to become a sports reporter and anchor for a local TV station in Mississippi, following in the footsteps of her older sister Sally-Ann Roberts, an anchor at the CBS affiliate WWL in New Orleans. Robin Roberts began her career in 1983 as a sports anchor and reporter for WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and moved to WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi a year later. In 1986, she was sports anchor and reporter for WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee, and was soon offered a position at WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, as a sports anchor and reporter, where she served from 1988 to 1990. As her popularity soared, she also became a host for Atlanta radio station V-103.

Roberts joined ESPN as a sportscaster in February 1990, and stayed until 2005. She became well known on “Sportscenter” for her catchphrase, “Go on with your bad self!” Roberts began to work for ABC News, first as a feature reporter for “Good Morning America” (GMA) in June 1995. In 2001, Roberts received the esteemed Mel Greenberg Media Award, presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

For many years, Roberts worked at both ESPN and “Good Morning America,” contributing to both programs. During that time, she served primarily as the news anchor at GMA. In 2005, she was promoted to serve as co-anchor, and was joined by George Stephanopoulos as co-anchor after Diane Sawyer left to anchor ABC World News in December of 2009. Under their partnership, the Roberts-Stephanopoulos team led “Good Morning America” back to the top of the ratings; the program became the number one morning show again in April 2012, beating NBC’s “Today,” which had held the top spot for the previous 16 years.

In the fall of 2005, Roberts anchored a series of emotional reports from the Mississippi Gulf Coast after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Her hometown of Pass Christian was especially hard hit, with her old high school reduced to rubble. On February 22, 2009, Roberts hosted the “Academy Awards” preshow for ABC, and did so again in 2011. In 2010, Roberts guest starred on Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana,” appearing in season 4, episode 10, “Can You See the Real Me?” On May 30, 2010, Roberts was invited to drive the pace car for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.

As Roberts’ popularity as a public figure increased, recognition of her skills as a journalist and interviewer also rose in respect and admiration. She had simply become one of the best in the business, and by all appearances, Roberts clearly enjoyed what she was doing, which made her an even more compelling figure to audiences. Roberts was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2012 for her contributions to, and impact on the game of women’s basketball through her broadcasting work and play.

Roberts is a practicing Christian, and once was an invited guest on “The 700 Club.” In 2007, she was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. Roberts underwent surgery on August 3, and by January 2008 had completed eight chemotherapy treatments, followed by more than six weeks of radiation treatment.

In 2012, Robin Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the bone marrow that she contracted after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. On the day she announced on-air that she was sick with MDS, Be the Match Registry, a nonprofit organization run by the National Marrow Donor Program, experienced a 1,800 percent spike in donors the day Roberts went public with her illness. She took a leave from GMA to get a bone marrow transplant from her sister, Sally-Ann, and went home in October 2012. Roberts’ beloved mother had suffered a stroke and passed away just as Robin was preparing to have a risky bone-marrow procedure in August of 2012.

On February 20, 2013, Robin Roberts made her first appearance on “Good Morning America” since she had begun treatment. The world witnessed her emotional return and happy reunion with the GMA staff. Roberts helped “Good Morning America” win its best ratings numbers since the morning after the presidential election in November 2012. More than six million viewers tuned in to see her return. “I have been waiting 174 days to say this: Good morning, America!” she exclaimed during the segment.

Roberts received a 2012 Peabody Award for the program, crediting her for “allowing her network to document and build a public service campaign around her battle with rare disease” and “inspiring hundreds of potential bone marrow donors to register and heightening awareness of the need for even more donors.” In July of 2013, Roberts made headlines when she was honored by ESPN at the 2013 ESPY Awards. She received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which was presented to Roberts by basketball star LeBron James. On October 6, 2014, she received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University.

Adored for her skills as a journalist, her accomplishments as a collegiate athlete, and for her easygoing but classy demeanor, Robin Roberts had become an inspiring role model, and America’s favorite sweetheart. In early January of 2014, she came out as a lesbian on “Good Morning America.” She hadn’t publicly discussed her sexual orientation prior to the announcement, but it was known by her friends, and industry colleagues. The public also got to see a photo of Roberts’s girlfriend, Amber Laign, on the show, following the news anchor’s revelation in which she thanked her partner for her assistance in getting through her ordeal. She posted a photo on Facebook with a caption that read: “At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude. I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health…I am grateful for my entire family, my long-time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.”

Roberts and Laign, a massage therapist, have been together since 2005. While they rarely make appearances in New York’s glittery nightlife, they did step out together for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) Respect Awards in New York City in May of 2014. Roberts was there to present the Gay Straight Alliance of the Year Award to Park City High School in Park City, Utah. GLSEN is an organization that focuses on “ensuring safe schools for all students.”

Robin Roberts is the author of “From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By,” which she released in 2007. In 2014, she published her acclaimed best-selling testimonial, “Everybody’s Got Something.”

In 2015, Roberts was named by Equality Forum as one of their 31 Icons of the 2015 LGBT History Month.

Roberts founded her own production company, Rock’n Robin Productions, which creates original broadcast and digital programming for ABC and other networks, ranging from informational shows and documentaries, to live special events.

We thank Robin Roberts for her inspiring tenacity, her impassioned commitment to journalism, and her many loving contributions to our community.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.