Robin was born to parents Lucimarian Tolliver and Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, who was a pilot. She spent her early years in Christian, Mississippi playing basketball and tennis. Out of her four siblings, she is the youngest.
On Good Morning America, Robin was asked to talk about her father and his experience as a military pilot “My father passed away, just before he turned 82. This is the great thing about Good Morning America. They had said to me, "If you could do anything, what would that be?" I said, "I want to fly a plane like my dad did. "Now, I didn't mean I actually wanted to fly a plane that he flew! But we went back to Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala., and this old thing comes chugging down the runway, and I'm, like, "I'm getting in that?" I was wearing my dad's old bombardier jacket. My father was very conservative and not boisterous at all, and to see him like this — he was so excited. It was very special — my fantasy. We went live, and it was a great way to bring attention, because in 2003, people would go, "Tuskegee Airmen — what are they about?" Now when you say it, people are a little more familiar because of Red Tails, the George Lucas film, and others. So it was a way to educate people, to honor my father and the fellow airmen. And also, aviation is my second love. If this broadcasting thing didn't work out, I wanted to be a pilot.”
Robin graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from South-eastern Louisiana University. Soo after, she followed her sister Sally-Ann and entered the broadcasting industry.
Due to her love for sports, she started her career as an anchor for a sports program on WDAM-TV. The very next year she moved to Mississippi to work for WLOX-TV. She worked as a sports anchor and reporter at WAGA-TV in Atlanta from 1988 to 1990.
She got her big break when she joined ESPN in 1990 and would end up working on the network for 15 years. She was known around the country for her “Go on with your bad self!” catchphrase.
In 2005, she covered the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She was emotionally invested as her hometown of Christian was very badly damaged by the natural disaster. That same year, she was named the as the new co-anchor for Good Morning America. Her fame rose when she was seen crying as she reported on the damage that Hurricane Katrina had caused to her hometown.
In an interview with AARP, Robin spoke about how it felt to cover Hurricane Katrina as a reporter and how she was worried about her family members during the crisis, “Covering Hurricane Katrina was a real moment for me, personally and professionally. On the air, I broke down and cried when Charlie Gibson asked about my family. I had just found my mother and sister within the hour. They hadn't been able to evacuate because my mom was ill. The family house was damaged, but they were fine. After the broadcast, I remember taking my earpiece out and thinking, "I don't have a job anymore." Because it was a time when you didn't show emotion like that.”
In 2009 and 2011, she hosted the Academy Awards pre-show for ABC. She was also included in the Women’s Basketball Hall Of fame in 2012 for her contributions to the game as a sports commentator.
Out of the Closet
She used a Facebook post to disclose her sexual orientation and announce that she was a gay woman. Being a lesbian was something that her friends and family had already known for a long time. She also thanked her family and longtime girlfriend Amber for all the support when she came out publicly. Her girlfriend was identified as Amber Laign, a licensed massage therapist. Both their families had already known of the love affair and endorsed the relationship before it became public. The former First Lady, Michelle Obama supported Robin for her relationship with Amber in a tweet. President Barrack Obama chose her for his interview in May 2012 to publicize his support for same sex marriage.
In March 2013, there were rumors circling around Robin for having an affair and planning a secret marriage with her alleged girlfriend, Storm Sahara, a film director. There were numerous misleading tweets by Sahara on her account which made her followers believe that she was indeed Robin’s wife. Robin has also been romantically linked with tennis player Martina Navratilova and also a basketball coach Nell Fortner but there wasn’t much proof to confirm the relationships.
Battle with Cancer
Robin was diagnosed with the first stage of breast cancer in 2007. She underwent a surgery on August 3, 2007 to fight the disease. For the next few months, she had to complete eight chemotherapy treatments, which were then followed by six and half radiation sessions treatments. Even though she was able to recover from the breast cancer, that was not the end of health problems for her, in 2012 she was diagnosed a bone marrow cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
She went public through social media about her health which resulted in an 1800% rise in the list of bone marrow donors the same day. She took leave from her work on October 2012 until February 2013 to get a bone marrow transplant. She had earlier received the 2012 Peabody Award which credited her for her co-operation with the network to build a public service campaign around her battle with the disease which inspired hundreds of people to come forward and donate for the greater cause.
Robin was able to beat the bone marrow cancer when her oldest sister, Sally-Ann was found to be a match and donated her marrow to Robin.
Last Modified: Mar 15, 2020