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Robin Roberts Biography


Home > Actresses > R > Roberts, Robin > Biography


Birth Name: Robin Roberts
Born: 11/23/1960
Birth Place: Tuskegee, Alabama, USA


Born Robin René Roberts on Nov. 23, 1960 in Pass Christian, MS, she was the youngest of four children by Air Force colonel and Tuskegee Airman Lawrence E. Roberts and his wife, Lucimarian Roberts. An older sister, Sally-Ann, later established her own news career as an anchor for WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA. The product of a strict but supportive upbringing, Roberts excelled at both academics and extra-curricular activities, graduating as the salutatorian of Pass Christian High School's class of 1979 while excelling at basketball and tennis, among other sports. She then graduated cum laude in 1983 with a degree in communication from Southeastern Louisiana University while capturing the titles of the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder as part of the women's basketball team, the Lady Lions. In her senior year, she averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game.

Roberts' broadcasting career began while in college at WHMD radio in Hammond, LA, where she served as the station's sports director. Immediately after graduation, she landed her first professional job as a sports anchor and reporter for WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, MS. Stints in Biloxi, Mississippi and Nashville, TN, where she won the Nashville Scene Sportscaster of the Year Award in 1987, preceded her tenure in Atlanta, GA, where she worked as a sports anchor for WAGA-TV while also serving as a radio personality for the city's top-rated morning show on WVEE-FM. Roberts had been contacted by ESPN with a signing offer as early as 1987, but declined, citing her need to gain more television experience before joining a major entity like the famed sports network.

In1990, ESPN offered Roberts the opportunity to host its overnight "SportsCenter" broadcasts. In addition to making history at the network as its first African-American anchorwoman, she also proved such an informed commentator that within a month of arriving at ESPN, she was anchoring "NFL Primetime" (ESPN, 1987- ). In 1994, Roberts was given her own ESPN series, "In the SportsLight" (1994), which hosted such guests as Bill Cosby and professional basketball player-turned-U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. Two years later, she achieved what many considered to be the apex of her sports broadcasting profession by becoming the anchor of ABC's long-running "Wide World of Sports," making her the first anchor in television history to host both programs. Roberts covered a diverse array of sports during her six-year tenure with ESPN, including the U.S. Figure Skating Championship, tennis, and short track speed skating. She also became the first woman to host a National Football League pre-game show. Roberts reaped considerable rewards for her efforts, including two Emmys, induction into the Women's Institute on Sports, and the Education Foundation's Hall of Fame. But shortly before her contract with ESPN expired in 2001, she expressed a desire to shift the focus of her career from sports to news coverage.

Two years later, she began reading the news on "Good Morning America," for which she had worked as a contributor since 1995. By 2005, she was sharing anchor duties with Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson. "GMA" afforded Roberts the opportunity to cover some of the major stories of the decade, from the 2008 presidential race to the H1N1 swine flu outbreak, for which she reported from inside the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Perhaps her most personal story came in 2005 when she returned to the Gulf Coast to cover the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. After learning of the damage suffered by her hometown, Roberts launched the rebuilding initiative "'GMA' Gets It Done," which aided relief efforts in Pass Christian.

Two years later, she allowed morning viewers to see an even more personal side when she revealed during a live "Good Morning America" broadcast that she had been diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. She returned to the anchor desk after successfully undergoing surgery that same year and had no qualms about being seen bald publicly after her chemo. For her efforts to bring awareness to breast cancer issues, Roberts received numerous awards from related organizations, including the Susan G. Komen Institute. She also published a book, From the Heart: 7 Rules to Live By (2007), which detailed her life and early career. An updated version, which included a chapter on her breast cancer struggle, was released the following year.

In 2009, Roberts expanded her position within ABC's reporting to include co-hosting duties for the red carpet coverage of the network's Oscar pre-show, as well as the first of two primetime specials, one of which featured the first interview with Janet Jackson after the death of her brother, Michael. In 2011, she was announced as an inductee into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame for her role in expanding the visibility of the sport through her news coverage. The flood of positive news was tempered somewhat the following year when Roberts announced on "GMA" that she had developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood-related medical condition also known as pre-leukemia which was reportedly a side effect of her cancer treatment. Roberts added that she would undergo an aggressive regimen to beat the disease, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant from her sister, who proved to be an almost exact match. In December 2013, Roberts confirmed what had become something of an open secret, publicly revealing her decade-long relationship with massage therapist Amber Laign on her Facebook page.

By Paul Gaita