17 July 2013, Los Angeles, USA
Robin Roberts suffered from and was treated for myelodysplastic syndrome . She received a bone marrow transplant.
Thank you very much. Thank you, thank you. You know, at this moment I'm filled with such gratitude. Thanks to Mrs. Obama for her warm words and to LeBron for graciously adding to this immense honour. My mama was from Akron, Ohio and she loved her some King James, and she's smiling down on us right now. So thank you, thank you very much.
It's a moment I couldn't even begin to dream of when I began my career, you heard me, I just wanted to be the best sports journalist that I could be. I wanted to be a pro athlete, that's what I really wanted to be. I wanted to be a pro athlete but there's something called ... wait a minute, what is that again? Oh yes, ability, that you must have. So I am in awe of your vast accomplishments, and to be in your company tonight, and in the company of some old, dear friends at ESPN.
I realise there are many worthy of holding this honour. Others who have exhibited far more courage, strength, and resilience, and it's humbling for me to represent you tonight. I draw strength from you. You give me the courage to face down any challenge, to know that when fear knocks, to let faith answer the door.
Those of us who are fortunate to have overcome some form of illness or adversity are often told that we are strong. I didn't find that strength on my own, it's a quality that grew with every kind word of support, every prayer, every tweet, every email, every phone call. I gained strength from the doctors and nurses who checked on me long after their shift was over. From those I knew, and others I may never know, who took time out of their busy lives to reach out and let me know they were thinking of me, they were praying for me, every step of my journey.
Through it all, I learned that strength, true strength, isn't when you face down life's challenges on your own, it's when you take them on by accepting the help, faith, and love of others and knowing you are lucky to have those. Arthur Ashe was a dear, dear friend of mine, as you heard. He taught me the importance of using the platform we were blessed to be given to be of service to others, and he showed me, he showed all us that, through his selfless actions off the court.
You heard me, Mama used to say, "Make your mess your message." Find the meaning behind whatever it is you're going through because everybody's got something. And I am grateful to Bob Iger and Anne Sweeney for their compassion and support in helping me through my something, for helping me deliver my message of hope and to be a symbol of, "This too shall pass."
My family and dear friends, man, their unconditional love brings me to tears. They make me believe that this isn't my fight, but rather our fight. My big sister, Sally-Ann, my donor. I wouldn't be standing here, heck, I wouldn't be standing anywhere, if it were not for you and I thank you for that. It's very easy to spot sister Sally, she's always the one like, "Yes Jesus, yes, yes lord, yes, yes." That's sister Sally, sister Sally will set you free.
Lastly, I remember when Jim Valvano was the first recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage award and I was standing backstage. I was backstage, the next presenter on after Jimmy V, when he accepted the honour with an inspiring speech that touched us all, and still does. That night, in establishing the V Foundation for Cancer Research, Jim said, "We need your help, I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life, it may save my children's, it may save someone you love."
And I've been blessed to achieve things in life I could never have imagined as that little girl growing up in Mississippi. 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.
And now I ask you to save someone else, give strength to someone else, join, if you can, the bone marrow registry, donate to make more research possible, take part in clinical trials, as I have and my sister has. And thanks to my dream charm of doctors and nurses, I now have, I literally have my sister's DNA. But all of you here tonight and you there at home, and especially my wonderful, caring ESPN and ABC GMA family, yes I have my sister's DNA, but you will always have my heart. And I thank you ...