Robin Roberts Turns a ‘Mess Into a Message’

Her triumph over cancer isn't the only reason the GMA star is one of the most loved hosts on TV.

Robin Roberts (Heidi Gutman/Getty Images Entertainment)
Robin Roberts (Heidi Gutman/Getty Images Entertainment)

(The Root) — I cannot get enough of Robin Roberts. She’s the type of woman whose smile isn’t just infectious — it’s irresistible, overpowering. When she smiles, you have absolutely no choice but to join in and do the same. It’s practically cultlike, my Robin Roberts worship, and it appears as if the rest of you are believers, too.

Returning to her post as co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America after six months of medical leave, Roberts, 52, told her legion of fans yesterday: “Faith, family and friends have brought me to this moment. As my mother said, we all have something, and everyone’s story has purpose and meaning and value. And I share this morning, this day of celebration, with everyone.”

Last year Roberts was diagnosed with a type of MDS, or myelodyplastic syndromes, a rare form of blood cancer, after beating breast cancer in 2005. One day before she was to leave GMA to undergo intense chemotherapy and a lifesaving bone marrow transplant from her older sister, Robert’s mother, Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts, died at 88 years old.  

Robert’s mother, who co-authored a book with her former basketball-star daughter in 2012 titled My Story, My Song: Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith, indeed said, “Everyone has something.” For Roberts it’s almost intangible. What is her “something”?

In a broadcast career that has spanned more than three decades, Roberts is smart without ever being snobbish, snide or snarky. Roberts is the consummate professional while still managing to be attainable, every day. She is beyond likable; she’s huggable. Her beauty isn’t debatable. It is simple fact. A recent article in the New York Times stated that Roberts “is, according to industry research, the most-liked host on any American morning news program by a wide margin.”

Also according to the Times, after Ann Curry left NBC’s formerly No. 1-rated Today show, which GMA ousted from the top spot last year, Today executive producer Jim Bell told senior producers that ABC was “using Robin’s illness and the accompanying public interest in her health as a new weapon in its arsenal.”

But perhaps the story of a much loved woman beating the odds again and again isn’t what the network revels in exploiting, but what viewers actually enjoy taking part in. Recently The View’s Whoopi Goldberg called the many ABC appearances that Roberts will make this week, including a special documentary on 20/20 airing Friday at 10 p.m., her “victory lap.” It is. And who wouldn’t want to be on the sidelines cheering for triumph for a change?