The Heartbreaking Life Story Of Robin Roberts

She's the face that brightens up all of our mornings. Robin Roberts is the co-anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America," one of America's most popular news network morning shows. While "GMA" has seen its share of hosts come and go, the smart-witted, always-professional Roberts has become a mainstay for over two decades now. She's always dishing out news in an objective way, and in that smooth voice that has become iconic in its own right. 

Roberts does an amazing job lighting up our lives, but she's faced many difficult challenges in her own. The "GMA" host has been honest and open about the many heartaches she's endured over the years, even going so far as to share them live and on-air at some points. With all the heartbreaking trials she's been through, Robin Roberts' life story is indeed heartbreaking, but it's also a story that serves as an inspiration to others.

She lost her parents within a decade

Losing a family member is a devastating event for anyone to experience. For Robin Roberts, the experience was expounded because she lost both her mother and her father within eight years. Her mother, Lucimarian Roberts, passed away in 2012 after being diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder. Lucimarian was a writer and the first Black woman to be the head of Mississippi's Board of Education.

Robert's father, Colonel Lawrence E. Roberts, was a trailblazer just like his wife. He was assigned to the esteemed Tuskegee Airmen program in 1944. He would go on to serve in the military for 32 years and earned 18 service medals and awards. Sadly, Col. Roberts passed away in 2004. Although he's gone, Robin continues to keep his legacy alive in her own way. In November 2023, she visited the World War II Museum in New Orleans with her partner, Amber Laign. She wore a beautiful sequined outfit that was bright red. In her Instagram post from that day, she explained that she chose to wear red to honor her father and his service.

Robin's parents were the biggest motivational forces in her life. "[W]hen you have that kind of reinforcement all the time that you're growing up around, as much as there would be times that I doubted that it was going to happen, I knew it wasn't impossible," she told NPR, "because I had two people raising me that had overcome some really long odds."

Her childhood home was hit by a horrible disaster

On August 29, 2005, the Gulf Coast of the United States was struck by Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophic Category 3 storm that ravaged Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, causing widespread death and damage. Katrina's devastating winds and subsequent flooding killed around 2,000 people and left an estimated 1 million people displaced from their homes.

After the storm hit, ABC flew out to discover the extent of the storm's damages. Robin Roberts, who was a freshly-minted co-anchor with "GMA" at the time, was with them. She had a personal stake in the outcome of Katrina. The Mississippi Gulf Coast was her childhood home and the place where her family still lived. When she and her team arrived, she was understandably terrified. 

Roberts wrote about the experience in a personal essay. She recalled driving away from her team to visit her mother, who was weathering out the storm in her home in Biloxi. "My heart was pounding seeing houses completely destroyed. Familiar landmarks were obliterated," Roberts remembered. "I was relieved to see only a portion of my mom's roof gone, and thankfully the house was still standing." A video from that day shows Roberts shedding tears of relief. In an interview with TV Insider, she admitted she crying on-air be the end of her career. Instead, her touching display of humanity sealed her place as one of America's favorite news anchors.

She has faced multiple cancer scares

Usually when Robin Roberts begins her segments on "Good Morning America," she's wearing her famous megawatt smile, her eyes are bright and excited, and she's ready to divulge news to all her eager viewers. But on one tragic day in 2007, the host opened her segment with a very different expression on her face. She remained stoic and brave as she broke the news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Just a few short years after her cancer diagnosis, Roberts received another startling diagnosis: she had a blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Thankfully, Roberts has been able to beat both terrifying diseases. For her triumphant victories, she was honored at the 2013 ESPY Awards. Unfortunately, these wouldn't be the only instances in which Roberts had a cancer scare close to home. In a tragic twist of fate, Roberts' partner, Amber Laign, was also diagnosed with cancer in 2021. The "GMA" anchor broke the news to fans via X, formerly known as Twitter. In the social media video, Roberts detailed how Laign was undergoing chemotherapy. However, the treatment plan was forced to a halt in early 2022 when Laign faced complications (via Entertainment Tonight). Later in July 2022, Laign was able to finish radiation, which Roberts shared on Instagram

Despite her and her wife's health challenges, Roberts does not let them get her down. She has made her life an inspiration for other cancer patients and survivors looking to be uplifted.