Robin Roberts was a face for Title IX when she appeared as an anchor on "SportsCenter" from 1990 to 2005. Last week, Roberts revealed she has a rare blood disorder MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome. We asked this generation of female sports journalists what Roberts means to them.
Roberts is a remarkable friend
By Rebecca Lobo
I worked with Robin Roberts in the ESPN studio for the women's NCAA tournament for three years. I was 24 years old, had never done studio work before and was very raw. Robin could not have been more helpful or accommodating. She made me feel comfortable, like I belonged in this new world.
The first few weekends of the tournament, our days were very long. We'd go on the air at 11 a.m. and wouldn't be done until close to 2 a.m. We watched the games while sitting on our stools at the anchor desk. We had microphones clipped to our blouses and wore ear pieces to hear one another and the director. One evening during my second season at the desk, I got up during a game to use the restroom. After I returned, I watched the rest of the game, so I could be ready to comment at its conclusion. Robin took the toss from the play-by-play announcer at the site and asked me my opinion on the game. I was two sentences into what I'm sure was a brilliant commentary when Robin interrupted me and said -- for all to hear -- "Next time Rebecca goes to the bathroom, we'll remind her to put her microphone back on." Shortly after, we went to commercial.
Robin's comment was perfect. It was her way of giving me a hard time, but more important, it made me feel like I "belonged." She no longer felt the need to take care of me. She could just treat me like one of the guys.
When Robin was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mother -- a breast cancer survivor -- reached out to her through email to lend support. Even though Robin received thousands of emails of encouragement, she responded to my mom. Then, when my mother passed away last summer, Robin sent me a heartfelt, wonderful email. Part of it read, "Just heard about your beloved mother. There are no words other than to say she was a remarkable woman."
The same can be said of Robin herself. A remarkable woman. A remarkable friend.
Roberts gives back
By Julie Foudy
Ahh, where to start ...
Robin is so many of the great things we all strive to be in life. She's kind, classy, courageous, smart, grounded, funny, generous and beloved. And if that is not enough, add to the mix that I have never met a person who does not think the world of Robin. Not one. So let me give you just one of the many examples of why she is indeed so loved.
The first year we started our Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, in 2006, I asked Robin whether she would come talk to our campers -- all teenage girls who played soccer -- about sports, leadership and life. She was, of course, co-hosting "Good Morning America," so I thought the possibility of getting her to New Jersey for an afternoon to talk to a couple hundred girls would be nearly impossible.
Without hesitation, Robin said, "Yes, I'd love to come meet the girls." She came straight from shooting GMA and spoke for more than an hour. She spoke about adversity and how it makes you stronger. She talked about believing when others doubt. She talked about her family, her love of sports and how they shaped her. But here is where Robin is Robin. She donated her time to come do this, and a week later in the mail, I received a note from her with a $5,000 check for our foundation. She asked that we find girls from New Orleans to come to the academy on full scholarships. She wanted young girls from Hurricane Katrina-hit areas of Louisiana to have this leadership experience.
That day was a wonderful reminder of how deeply she cares about giving back, about helping others. She's a mentor, a friend and a constant inspiration. She will tackle this next challenge in her life with the same courage and grace we see in her daily. And of course, she will do it with a smile. Thank you, Robin, for making this world a better place.
Learning from Roberts
By Jane McManus
For a young woman who loved sports, Robin Roberts' presence on ESPN confirmed there was a place for me in the audience as well. She is smart, knows her stuff and has always been comfortable in front of the camera.
Later, when I wanted to be a sports journalist, there she was as a reminder that it can be done, there could be a place for me here as well if I learned the craft.
So in that way, when Roberts fought through breast cancer and now has to combat a rare blood disorder, I know that could be any one of us also.
Roberts has always shown grace in her struggles. So as scary as it is to see her face a potent health threat, I appreciate her ability to open up the process and be up front about it. Because I'm still learning from her.
Go on with your bad self
By Adena Andrews
Bob Marley has a line in his song "No Woman, No Cry" that says, "In this great future, you can't forget your past." Robin Roberts is the part of the past that makes it possible for my words to appear on ESPN. Without her, it's possible my career wouldn't exist.
As the first African-American anchorwoman hired by ESPN, Roberts was the first face that looked like mine whom I saw on the channel. She came into my living room with her sharp wit and megawatt smile. She made it impossible for my mother to make me stop watching sports.
Then, there was her famous catchphrase, "Go on with your bad self!" that made America chuckle. The Mississippi native brought a part of the African-American vernacular to the world and showed us you could be yourself and people would love you.
Roberts has been the epitome of class and great journalism. I can only hope to attain a small piece of the success she has built. For everything she has done and everything she will do, I'd like to say, "Go on with your bad self!"
Announcement saves lives
By Melissa Jacobs
Today's modern woman strives for it all, a rich set of accomplishments both personally and professionally. On the professional level, Robin Roberts is the ultimate modern woman.
The diversity in Roberts' career -- from "SportsCenter" anchor (when nary a woman was found) to reporting on the aftermath of Katrina to being the first person to interview Barack Obama after he was sworn in as president to hosting the Academy Awards red carpet -- is nothing short of incredible. She has handled all of these tasks with grace and excellence.
But nothing is more noteworthy about Roberts than her decision to publicly battle breast cancer. Through her fight, so many women were inspired to get regular mammograms. And now, just a week after she announced her new battle against myelodysplastic syndrome, sign-ups for potential bone marrow matches have increased by 1,800 percent.
Roberts has saved lives. For that, more than any of her amazing professional trailblazing and variance, she is a hero.
Roberts always strong
By Amanda Rykoff
I remember the first time I saw Robin Roberts anchor "SportsCenter" when I was in college at Penn. I was a sports writer for the Daily Pennsylvanian, and although I didn't have any professional aspirations of becoming a member of the sports media at the time, I remember being struck by seeing such a strong, confident woman deliver sports news. Roberts had a presence about her that seemed to say, "Listen to me. I know what I'm talking about." Not in a know-it-all way, of course, but in a way that conveyed an authoritative yet familiar attitude. I didn't know about her athletic success as a collegiate basketball player; I just looked forward to getting my sports news and highlights from Roberts.
I'm relatively new to being a member of the sports media, so I can't say Roberts served as a role model professionally. But as a fan and avid watcher of "SportsCenter," to me she always stood out, and I admired her approach. I remember being disappointed when she moved on to focus on news with "Good Morning America" and looked forward to her occasional guest appearances on ESPN.
I wish Robin the best as she fights this disease. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her friends and family. I don't know her personally, but I'm confident she will bring that same strength and confidence she brought to the anchor desk to this fight.