Past recipients include NBA legends Monty Williams in 2017 and Dikembe Mutombo in 2018

By Lindsay Kimble
June 24, 2019 10:54 PM
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Longtime Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts — who began her career as a sports reporter — received the Sager Strong award at the 2019 NBA Awards on Monday.

“I am honored and I am grateful for this recognition,” said Roberts. “The only time that i am at a loss for words when it comes to Craig [Sager], his wardrobe,”

The award is named for late sideline reporter Craig Sager, who died in 2016 after a battle with cancer. Roberts, too, is a cancer survivor and also battled a rare blood and bone marrow disease years later.

“I feel such a connection to Craig, we were both young sports reporters back in the day … we often crossed paths,” she explained, adding, “and every single time I walked away with a big smile on my face.”

Roberts related her own health journey to Sager’s, also taking time to thank her longtime supporters, saying, “For everyone who has said a prayer for me, thank you, bless you, and right back at you.”

“Mama used to say, ‘Everybody’s got something,’ ” said Roberts. “Everybody’s got something, even the magnificent stars that we have shining brightly in this room tonight … i urge you not to compare your despair … Craig’s courage, the way he would focus on the fight and not the fright … are qualities that we all should strive for in our lives.”

Roberts, 58, learned she’d receive the honor earlier this year in a special video message from Inside the NBA hosts Ernie Johnson Jr., Shaquille O’NealCharles Barkley and Kenny Smith.

“It’s an honor to announce that this year’s Sager Strong Award goes to another fighter, who continues to inspire and encourage millions,” O’Neal shared of Roberts.

After taking in the news, Roberts shared how honored she was by the announcement.

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Reflecting on Sager’s legacy, she remarked, “I remember he said, ‘Time is how you live your life.’ “

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“He was such an incredible friend. We were both inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in the same year,” she continued, noting that Sager, “was too ill to attend” the 2016 ceremony.

RELATED: Robin Roberts on 5-Year Anniversary of Returning to GMA After Health Battle: ‘I’m So Grateful’  

The induction, which took place on Dec. 14, 2016, occurred just one day before Sager passed away.

“I can’t tell you, receiving an honor bearing his name, it means so much,” Roberts said.

Past recipients include NBA legends Monty Williams in 2017 and Dikembe Mutombo in 2018.

The NBA Awards are airing live on Monday, June 24 on TNT.

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