After growing up in Mississippi and attending Southeastern Louisiana University, Roberts was a sports anchor for local TV and radio stations. Roberts was a sportscaster on ESPN for 15 years (1990–2005). She became co-anchor on Good Morning America in 2005. She has been treated for breast cancer and for myelodysplastic syndrome.
Though born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Robin Roberts grew up in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where she played basketball and tennis, among other sports. She attended Pass Christian High School and graduated as the class of 1979 salutatorian. She is the daughter of Lucimarian (née Tolliver) and Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts.
In a 2006 presentation to the assembled student body at Abilene Christian University, Roberts credited her parents as cultivating the "three 'D's: Discipline, Determination, and 'De Lord'." She is the youngest of four, following siblings Sally-Ann, Lawrence, Jr. (nicknamed Butch), and Dorothy. Her father was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen.
Roberts attended Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana, graduating cum laude in 1983 with a degree in communication. She followed in the footsteps of her older sister Sally-Ann Roberts, an anchor at the CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans.
Roberts noted on the January 14, 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 she was promised that there would be a journalism scholarship by the time she would graduate. She 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). Roberts is one of only three Lady Lions to score 1,000 career points and grab 1,000 career rebounds. During her senior season, she averaged a career-high 27.6 points per game. On February 5, 2011, Southeastern hosted a ceremony to retire Roberts' jersey, number 21.
Roberts began her career in 1983 as a sports anchor and reporter for WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In 1984, she moved to WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1986, she was sports anchor and reporter for WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee. She was also a sports anchor and reporter at WAGA-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1988 to 1990. She was also a radio host for radio station V-103 while in Atlanta.
She joined ESPN as a sportscaster in February 1990, where she stayed until 2005. On SportsCenter, she used the catchphrase, "Go on with your bad self!" Roberts began to work for ABC News, specifically as a featured reporter for Good Morning America in June 1995. In 2001, Roberts received the Mel Greenberg Media Award, presented by the WBCA.
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, Roberts was promoted to co-anchor of Good Morning America. In December 2009, Roberts was joined by George Stephanopoulos as co-anchor of GMA after Diane Sawyer left to anchor ABC World News. 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 drove the Pace Car for the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
Roberts was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Hall's class of 2012 for her contributions to and impact on the game of women's basketball through her broadcasting work and play. In 2014 Roberts was named one of ESPNW's Impact 25.
In 2014, Roberts won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. Roberts was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2016.
Roberts is Presbyterian and a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. In 2007, Roberts was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. She underwent surgery on August 3, and by January 2008 had completed eight chemotherapy treatments, followed by 6½ weeks of radiation treatment.
In 2012, she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the bone marrow. Be the Match Registry, a nonprofit organization run by the National Marrow Donor Program, experienced an 1,800% spike in donors the day Roberts went public with her illness. She took a leave from GMA to get a bone marrow transplant, and went home in October 2012. She returned to GMA on February 20, 2013. Roberts received a 2012 Peabody Award for the program. The Peabody citation credits her for "allowing her network to document and build a public service campaign around her battle with rare disease" and "inspir[ing] hundreds of potential bone marrow donors to register and heighten[ing] awareness of the need for even more donors." ESPN awarded its Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Roberts at the 2013 ESPYs.
On December 29, 2013, Roberts 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.
The post was a reflection of the past year and noted her health, the status of her bone marrow transplant, and her sexual orientation. Roberts and Amber Laign, a massage therapist, have been together since 2005. Though friends and co-workers have known about her same-sex relationships, this was the first time Roberts publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation. In 2015, she 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 Official website, which creates original broadcast and digital programming for ABC and other networks, ranging from informational shows and documentaries, to live special events.Roberts, Robin (2007). From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By (1st ed.). New York: Hyperion Books. ISBN 978-1401303334.
Roberts, Robin (2008). From the Heart: Eight Rules to Live By. New York: Hyperion Books. ISBN 978-1401309589.
Roberts, Robin (2014). Everybody's Got Something. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1455578450.
Roberts, Robin (2014). Everybody's Got Something Audiobook. Hachette Audio. ISBN 978-1478979630.