Robin Roberts honored by the Atlanta Hawks

The star of Friday night’s Atlanta Hawks game didn’t actually sink any shots.

Instead, Robin Roberts, the “Good Morning America” host who has candidly shared with viewers her experiences with first breast cancer, then myelodysplastic syndrome, came onto the court during a break in the action to receive the “Be Greater” award presented by SunTrust.

“Robin Roberts embodies every aspect of what it means to be a champion, and the Atlanta Hawks are honored to celebrate her courage, spirit and philanthropy,” said Hawks president Bob Williams.

Before the game, Roberts teamed up with her friend and longtime colleague Sam Champion, now at the Atlanta-based Weather Channel, for a reception during which she discussed her health journey.

“When I was first diagnosed with MDS, I was like, what exactly is that?” she said. “Having gone through the battle with breast cancer in 2007, I said I’m not doing this again. If something should happen, I’m just going to let it ride. I’ve had a great life. I’m not going to put myself and my family through that again.”

Then her doctor told her that a bone marrow transplant could be a cure.

“The C word, cure,” she said. “I said, I’m in.”

Her Friday appearance coincided with a donor drive for Be The Match, which pairs patients with volunteers whose donations could save them.

“You are giving people the opportunity to be like me,” she said. “To be here. To still be here.”

One of Roberts’ sisters turned out to be a match, but the vast majority of successful bone marrow transplants come from other donors.

“Seventy percent of the time, we’re relying on Be The Match,” Roberts said. “We’re relying on you. We’re relying on complete strangers to give the greatest gift.”

Christine Fleming, president of Be the Match, attended the reception and thanked Roberts for raising awareness about the organization, which is headquartered in Minneapolis and has offices in Charlotte and Atlanta.

“You have made our registry grow,” Fleming said. “You have given patients hope.”

More than once Roberts expressed appreciation for ABC and “Good Morning America,” which airs locally at 7 a.m. weekdays on Channel 2, WSB-TV.

“There were days I did call and say, ‘I know I was supposed to come in today. I can’t,’” she said. “I was off the air for six months and I had a job to come back to. I know some people don’t have that luxury.”

Roberts also said dealing with serious health matters has taught her lessons about herself. Her mantra throughout her illnesses was, “I’ve got to change the way I think to change the way I feel,” she said.

“I do believe in silver linings. I’m such a richer person for this experience,” she said. “Whatever you are going through, we’re all just a little bit stronger than we think we are.”

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