Serving her country is in Robin Roberts’ blood. Her mother was Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts, the first African American to lead Mississippi’s Board of Education. Her father, Lawrence Roberts, served in World War II as a pilot with the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators. Today, Robin Roberts serves her country and makes a difference as a journalist and newscaster. Born in Alabama, Robin grew up in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where she played basketball, tennis, and other sports. Her excellence in sports won her an athletic scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University, where she became the star player for the women’s basketball team and graduated cum laude with a degree in communications.
While still in college, she began working as a sports director for a local radio station. From there she moved to sports reporting and anchor positions for local television stations throughout the south. In 1990, Robin joined ESPN—the first female African American sports journalist for the network—and within five years she was also a regular contributor on Good Morning America (GMA). In her 15 years at ESPN, she contributed to NFL PrimeTime and hosted SportsCenter and In the Game with Robin Roberts.
“You want, as a journalist, to create a reaction that leads to action.”
In 2005, she joined GMA full time as co-anchor. Since Robin joined the program, the show has won five Emmys® for Outstanding Morning Program and the 2017 People’s Choice Award® for Favorite Daytime TV Hosting Team. For ABC, Robin has also hosted In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts: All Access Nashville, as well as ABC’s red carpet coverage of the Academy Awards®. In addition to these hosting duties, she’s also created original broadcast and digital programming for the network through her production company, Rock’n Robin Productions.
Robin shares that her colleague and friend (and fellow 2019 Disney Legend) Diane Sawyer taught her one of the most important lessons she has learned as a journalist: “You want, as a journalist, to create a reaction that leads to action.”
A breast cancer survivor, Robin was treated for myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare bone marrow disease, in 2012. When she revealed her condition to the public, the primary registry operated by the National Marrow Donor program saw an 1,800 percent increase in donors. She chronicled her journey on GMA and earned a Peabody Award for the coverage.
Through Disney’s Hyperion publishing division, she released her first book, From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By in 2007, a compilation of rules and insights to overcome tough obstacles and become successful. A year later she produced an updated edition which included her breast cancer journey, From the Heart: Eight Rules to Live By. In 2014, she released her memoir, the New York Times’ best-seller Everybody’s Got Something, in which she shared more of her life lessons. “Being optimistic is like a muscle that gets stronger with use. Makes it easier when the tough times arrive. You have to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel,” she says.
Among Robin’s many awards are the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism; the National Association of Broadcasters’ Distinguished Service Award; membership in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame; the Women’s Institute of Sport and Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame; and the Radio Television Digital News Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, Louisiana Public Broadcasting named her a “Louisiana Legend.” She was voted the “Most Trusted Person on Television” by a Reader’s Digest poll in 2013. Robin was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year (2014), and in 2017 the Human Rights Campaign honored her with its Visibility Award.