Robin Roberts Breaks Down While Discussing Naomi Judd's Death on 'GMA' : 'Mental Illness Is an Illness'

On Monday's episode of GMA, Robin Roberts teared up while speaking about her memories with Naomi Judd, who at 76 on Saturday

Robin Roberts and Naomi Judd
Robin Roberts and Naomi Judd. Photo: Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television via Getty, Jonathan Leibson/WireImage

Robin Roberts is remembering the time she spent with Naomi Judd.

On Monday's episode of Good Morning America, the 61-year-old broadcast journalist teared up while speaking about her memories with the country legend, who died at 76 on Saturday.

"Mental illness is an illness," said Roberts through tears before recalling when Naomi and her daughter, Wynonna Judd, initiated supportive conversations following the 2012 death of the GMA host's mother, Lucimarian Roberts.

"She was also so kind. When my mama passed away in 2012, she reached out. So did Wy — Wynonna, that's what they call her," she continued. "She reached out, and it's just so thoughtful."

"I've heard from others in the [GMA] crew that had worked with her who said the same thing," said the former ESPN sportscaster. One of her GMA co-hosts chimed in, "She touched a lot of lives." "She certainly did," replied Roberts.

The morning show clip was shared to Roberts' Instagram page on Monday, and she penned a heartfelt caption to accompany the video. "It was heart-wrenching hearing the news about #NaomiJudd," wrote the host. "Will forever be grateful for the time I spent with her at her TN home and I'll never forget what she said about telling the truth about depression and anxiety."

In 2016, Naomi opened up to Roberts on GMA about her experience with mental illness while promoting her memoir, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope.

"What I've been through is extreme. My final diagnosis was severe depression," the country singer said at the time. "Treatment-resistant because they tried me on every single thing they had in their arsenal. It really felt like, if I live through this I want someone to be able to see that they can survive."

"They see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am," Naomi detailed. "But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad."

Robin Roberts, Naomi Judd, Wynonna Judd, The Judds appearing on the ABC tv series 'Good Morning America', to talk about their return to the stage after 10 years for a reunion tour.
Robin Roberts, Naomi Judd, and Wynonna Judd. Ida Mae Astute/American Broadcasting Companies via Getty

Her relationship with Wynonna was strained at the time, but she held hope for their bond and told Roberts she thought her daughter would react positively to the GMA interview.

"I love her but there are just times we need a break from each other," said Naomi. "We're still a little estranged from each other. And that happens with mother, daughters."

"If she sees this, and I hope she does, 'cause the smartest thing is for all of us to feel known, no matter what's goin' on. Be truthful," she continued. "I think she'll say, 'Good for you, Mom, for finally being willing to talk about the bad stuff.'"

On Saturday, Wynonna and Naomi's other daughter, actress Ashley Judd, released a statement announcing their mother's death. "Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public," the statement read. "We are in unknown territory."

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