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Robin Roberts' Sister Saved the GMA Co-Anchor's Life as Her Bone Marrow Donor — Meet Sally-Ann Roberts

Aby Rivas
Feb 21, 2020
11:30 A.M.
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“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts is not the only TV personality in her family. Her older sister, Sally-Ann Roberts, spent over 40 years as a host and presenter at WWL-TV in New Orleans before retiring in 2018. She’s also known for famously being Robin’s bone marrow donor.


Sally-Ann Roberts is the eldest of four children born in Chandler, Arizona, to Lawrence and Lucimarian Roberts.

Robin Roberts celebrates her 5th birthday with sister Sally-Ann on "Good Morning America," September 20, 2017 | Photo: GettyImages


She graduated with a master’s degree in communications from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1974, and soon after joined local station WDAM-TV as an anchor on the weekend news. She was also a writer, producer, and weather reporter at the network.


Then, one day in 1977, New Orleans’s WWL-TV’s co-anchor Angela Hill stopped at a hotel in Hattiesburg, and while watching the news, she was captivated by Sally-Ann’s talent.

So, back in New Orleans, Hill suggested her producer look up the young journalist from Mississippi, and soon after, the network offered Sally-Ann a job reporting from the city hall, which she accepted.


“I tell people all the time: You never know who’s watching you while you’re doing your work. You never know who’s thinking about you,” Sally-Ann told the New Orleans Advocate. And continued:

“It only takes one person to change a life forever. Angela Hill changed the trajectory of my life. If it had not been for Angela, I would not have come to this city and had all the wonderful experiences I’ve had.”

Sally-Ann has been living with her husband and three children in New Orleans since then, and she considers the city her home.



From covering the city government and learning a lot from that experience, Sally-Ann then became an anchor on WWL’s “Early Edition” show, and sometimes also a weekend anchor.

Then in 1991, she started sharing the screen in “Eyewitness Morning News” alongside Eric Paulsen, a role that she maintained for 26 years before officially retiring in February 2018 to pursue the next chapter in her life.

Sally Ann Roberts attends the CoachArt Gala of Champions at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 17, 2013 | Photo: GettyImages


Through her time on the morning show, Sally-Ann produced the “Quiet Heroes” series, which celebrated ordinary people turned heroes for making a difference in their communities.

She also co-founded the mentorship program Each One Save One, which provides local schools with trained volunteers to mentor their students in a year-long program.



Sally-Ann’s passion for mentoring comes from her mother, Lucimarian, who became the first college graduate in her family after being encouraged by a woman named Wilma Schnegg.

“As long as Lucimarian has a descendant on this earth, we will all be able to look back to Wilma Schnegg and say, ‘Thank you. If it hadn’t been for you, we wouldn’t be here,’” Roberts told NOLA. And added:

“My mother would not have had the life she did had it not been for somebody who saw something in her and encouraged her.”


Sally-Ann hopes to make a difference with her mentorship program, which has been running for almost 25 years now.


Although Sally-Ann has done a lot for her community in New Orleans, her biggest act of kindness took place in 2012, when she became her sister Robin Robert’s bone marrow donor.

Five years after winning her battle against breast cancer, Robin Roberts was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that required a bone marrow donor. However, finding a match is not that easy, not even among family members.

Sally-Ann Roberts and Robin Roberts attend the CoachArt Gala of Champions at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 17, 2013 | Photo: Shutterstock


Still, Roberts reached to her two older sisters, Dorothy and Sally-Ann, to get them tested for a possible match, and surprisingly, Sally-Ann overcame the 3 out of 10 chance that a family member has of becoming a match.

“I truly believe everything happens for a reason and purpose, and there was a purpose why Dorothy wasn’t my match, and Sally-Ann was,” Roberts told AARP in 2015.

Sally-Ann said something similar at the Essence Festival a year earlier:

“I was born for this. I believe that before I was in my mother’s womb that God knew. I believe that God allowed me to be a perfect genetic match.”


The sisters decided to take a very public journey with the process to raise awareness about the importance of bone marrow donors through the Be the Match campaign, and according to “GMA,” over 18,000 people joined the National Bone Marrow Registry thanks to the Roberts’ siblings.

For Sally-Ann, her new journey in life is focused on spreading love and light wherever she goes. “I have a message, and wherever the good Lord sends me, that’s where I’m going to share it,” she concluded.


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