Robin Roberts may not be shooting hoops anymore — but the “Good Morning America” host landed a touching a honor from the NBA Monday night.
Roberts was awarded the NBA’s Sager Strong Award, named after the sideline reporter who died at 65 in 2016 after battling leukemia. The award is presented each year to an “individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace,” the NBA said in a statement.
Craig Sager died a few days after he was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. He had been a veteran reporter for TBS and TNT (both networks, like CNN, are part of WarnerMedia.)
Roberts, who has been co-anchoring “Good Morning America” since 2005, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and later with myelodysplastic syndrome.
“She aligned with Be the Match to inform the public about the need for more donors and, since her diagnosis, the bone marrow registry has seen a tremendous increase. Her battle has been recognized with awards and honors from organizations around the country including The Susan G. Komen Foundation and The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program,” the NBA said.
Roberts is the third recipient of the award. The previous winners are former player and Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams and Dikembe Mutombo, who played in the NBA for 18 seasons and is known for his humanitarian work.
“We both endured bone marrow transplants,” Roberts said, referring to Sager while accepting the award. “As you saw, I’m incredibly blessed that my beautiful big sister Sally Ann was a match and she did not hesitate to step up and help her baby sister. Together we have worked to bring awareness and increase the number of donors on the bone marrow registry.”
“Although the outcome for Craig was not what we hoped for, not what we prayed for, his journey his valiant fight was every bit as powerful and meaningful to all of us who fight on in his memory,” she said.
The award? A colorful blazer
Sager was a sideline reporter who sported colorful, and at times fluorescent, suits every time he was on the job.
“I feel such a connection to Craig. We were both young sports reporters back in the day in Atlanta in the 1980s,” Roberts said in her acceptance speech. “We often crossed paths. Every single time, I walked away with a big smile on my face and often a drink in my hand because that was our Craig.”
In Sager’s honor, Roberts is taking home a jacket like one of the crazy ones worn by the late reporter.
“I’m honored and I’m grateful for this recognition,” she said. “Courage, faith, compassion and grace are a perfect description of Craig Sager. The only time that I am at a loss for words when it comes to Craig … his wardrobe. I cannot wait to wear this on the air.”
“I’ll wear it proudly.”
The blazer is a replica of the jacket Sager was wearing during his “unforgettable ‘Time is simply how you live your life’ speech in 2016,” the NBA said.
In the speech, Sager talked about life since his diagnosis saying he will “continue to keep fighting sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me.”
Back then, he had urged the audience to live each day despite life’s challenges.
“Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, it’s not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life,” he had said. “The way you think influences the way you feel, and the way you feel determines how you act.”
Roberts said Sager’s courage, “the way he would focus on the fight and not the fright,” his “unwavering faith,” his compassion and grace are qualities “we should all strive for in our lives.”