8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter
If there had been a WNBA during the 1980s, then Robin Roberts would have been a prospect. The 51-year-old Good Morning America anchor -- on leave for a leukemia-related syndrome that required a bone marrow transplant from her sister Sept. 20 -- was a star 5-foot-10 power forward at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond from 1979 to 1983. Roberts, from Pass Christian, Miss. (population 4,000), averaged 15.2 points a game as a senior. "She was playing girls who'd be 6'4", 6'5", and she never complained," says her coach Ace Bryant. "I'd get ticked because she wore her hair in a long braid. She'd get knocked around, and her braid would be sideways. But she got right back in there." After graduation, Roberts jumped to TV sports reporting (her first job as a weekend anchor in Hattiesburg, Miss., paid $5.50 an hour) and in 1990 became ESPN's first black anchorwoman. "I understand the athlete's mind-set, which isn't something all the guys at ESPN can," she said at the time. Her absence from the ABC morning program, where she has worked since 1995, comes just after it topped premiere-week ratings for the first time in 21 years.