Robin Roberts was the well deserved winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2013 EPSYs. Roberts, a broadcast journalist with ESPN and ABC, has overcome battles with both breast cancer and MDS, a disease that required a bone marrow transplant.
In a night largely comprised of celebratory fluff, Robin Roberts’ acceptance speech after receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award provided one of the emotional highpoints to The ESPYS. At the award show, Roberts delivered a moving speech or her own and discussed how she was backstage when Jimmy Valvano gave his emotional speech upon winning the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 1993.
“I’ve been blessed to achieve things in life I could never have imagined as that little girl growing up in Mississippi,” Roberts said. “But most of all, I never imagined that I’d be able to be standing here 20 years after Jimmy V’s speech and say that because of everyone who has responded to his challenge, because of all the donations, research and support, mine is one of the lives that’s been saved.”
Roberts was a star athlete growing up before launching a career in broadcast journalism. In 1990, she joined the staff of ESPN as a Sportscenter anchor and reporter, a role she thrived in for the next fifteen years.
Roberts joined the ABC Good Morning America staff as a reporter and later became a host for the show. One of her most famous television moments came during her coverage of Hurricane Katrina, when a visibly emotional Roberts spoke of her own family who were affected by the storm.
Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. After surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Roberts returned back to Good Morning America, becoming a powerful voice in the fight against the disease. In 2012, however, Roberts was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease that came as a side effect from her cancer treatment. She would need a bone marrow transplant to survive. Be the Match Registry, which is a national registry of bone marrow donors, saw a 1,800% increase in donors the day after Roberts made her illness public on television.
Days after her own mother’s passing, Roberts underwent the bone marrow transplant surgery, which would prove to be successful. Six months later, Roberts had recovered from the surgery, and returned with an emotional appearance on Good Morning America. It is no wonder why the journalist was a 2013 winner if the Arthur Ashe award.