Robin Roberts Honored With Arthur Ashe Courage Award

"GMA" anchor joins Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and others as recipients of iconic recognition.
3:00 | 07/17/13

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Transcript for Robin Roberts Honored With Arthur Ashe Courage Award
We're going to turn, now, to the west coast of los angeles. In particular.Huge honor there tonight for our robin roberts. Tonight, she is going to join some awfully illustrious company. Nelson mandela, muhammad ali, to name two of them. She's going to receive the autha authur ashe courage award. I'm going to be there. I can't wait to be part of a very deserving award. And he's done it. Reporter: Arthur ashe was a trail blazer in sport and in life. The definition of grace, dignity, on the court. The first african-american to win wimbledon. And the u.S. Open. And off the court, as well. Using his celebrity to fight discrimination and create public awareness on the taboo subject of aids. For this announcement would stun a nation. I've known since september 1988, that I have aids. I was at the press conference when he announced he had aids. I happened to run into him after the press conference. He comes out a side door. And I come up to him. And I want to comfort him. He hugs me. And he pulls me away. And he says, we have work to do. I don't have much time. I need you at the next board meeting. That's arthur. Reporter: Ashe passed away in 1993, leaving on his world, an indelible mark. It is said that a champion is a person who enriches the sport by his presence and leaves the game bfor having been in it. Arthur ashe was such a champion. It was arthur's intention not to be remembered just as an athlete. Tennis was his platform. To bring out all of the really big issues that meant so much to him. Reporter: Later that year, espn's espy awards presented the first arthur ashe courage award in his memory. Bestowing it upon north carolina dodgeball coach, jimmy valvano, who was battling cancer. Don't give up. Reporter: Recipients have included muhammad ali, billie jean king, nelson mandela, and last year, pat summitt. I'm going to keep on keeping on. I promise you that. Thank you. Reporter: And tonight, the honor is robin's. You find out. The call comes. Arthur ashe courage award winner. What was that first feeling when you found out? We're supposed to be giving out these awards. We're supposed to be maybe hosting the awards. But to be receiving an award at the espies? I could never envision that. Reporter: What made robin so fitting a recipient? Robin is a hero to a lot of people right now just because of the way she's conducting her life. Reporter: We've walked with robin on her journey since 2007. And through it all, she has done as her mother asked. Made her mess her message. We rejoiced when she went into remission in 2008. But last year, another devastating diagnosis. And then, a life-saving bone marrow transplant. And she's blazing a trail publicly in ways reminiscent of a man who, through the years, was both an inspiration and a dear friend. I remember distinctly a conversation I had with arthur, that espn -- I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing and how I'm spending my life. And he said to me, if at the end of the day all anybody could say, she worked at espn, she was a journalist, you haven't fulfilled your life's mission. That's how I look at arthur. He was a great tennis player but did so much more. And really inspired me to do the same. Reporter: Do you let yourself think of yourself as an inspiration? This last year, I've felt it more so than in my entire life. People have seen me grow up. They saw me at espn. They've seen me here at "good morning america." They've gone through the death of my parents, of my hometown, after katrina, after my health. And I'm still standing. And they know that they're a big reason why, the well-wishes, that they're able to somehow look at themselves, too, through me. You know, josh, I wish everyone felt this way at one point in their lives. I mean, really. The word, courage, is one that people have said to me, over and over again. And I look them dead in the eye. You know this, when I say we're all a little stronger than we think we are. We are all a little bit stronger than we think we are. And I had no other option but to be strong and to now be labeled courageous, wow. And her courageous walk again will take her on the stage tonight in los angeles, when she gets that award. And again, she wanted to -- everybody to know, she realizes there's so many worthy of the recognition. And yet, as I said, I can't imagine anybody better to receive this. Although, boy, she was a tough interview.

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