Robin Roberts mourns loss of her mother, after leaving GMA one day early ahead of bone marrow transplant
15:36 GMT, 31 August 2012
The mother of Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts has died, it was revealed this morning.
Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts passed away last night at the age of 88 in Mississippi, and the sad news was announced by Robin's co-anchor, George Stephanopoulos, on the show this morning.
Yesterday, Robin, 51, announced that she would be leaving GMA a day early for her medical leave, explaining that 'something's happened at home'.
Passed away: The mother of GMA anchor Robin Roberts (left), Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts (right), pictured together on The View in May, died last night at the age of 88
The host, who was initially
scheduled to step down today said yesterday would be her last day on the
show, ahead of a bone marrow transplant to treat her MDS.
Mr Stephanopoulos told viewers today: 'Robin did make it [home to Mississippi], to say goodbye.'
The news was revealed to ABC staff in an email last night, from GMA executive producer Tom Cibrowski.
He wrote: 'It is with deep regret and heavy prayer and reflection tonight that I
write to tell you of the passing of Robin's beautiful and inspiring
Robin and her sister, Sally-Ann, also her bone marrow donor, had been together in New York in preparation for the upcoming procedure when they heard news that their mother had not long to live.
In mourning: Robin with her siblings at her mother's 85th birthday celebration in 2009
Memories: Robin with her mother on the cover of her book, 'My Story, My Song' (left); The family together in 1966. Robin is the smallest child, in a white dress she says her mother made her wear (right)
They faced a difficult journey, however, given that the family home had been in the path of Tropical Storm Isaac.
Mr Cibrowski's note revealed: 'Robin arrived home with her sister Sally-Ann, forging through flooded
and blocked roads to be with her beloved mother in time to see her.'
Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts was
the first African American to head Mississippi's Board of Education.
Passionate about music, she collaborated with her famous daughter on a
book, published earlier this year, entitled My Story, My Song.
She wrote: 'I sing because the music of the church speaks my soul language. I sing because these songs are tightly woven in to
the texture of who I am.'
wrote in his email: 'She loved the written word and the poetry and joy
of song. She even recorded a CD of hymns for her family as a gift last
Close friends: Robin Roberts with her mother in May 2011, alongside Missy Buchanan, the co-author of her mom's memoir 'My Song, My Story'
Bowing out: An emotional Robin Roberts, seen here with sister Sally-Ann, took leave of her Good Morning America hosting duties a day earlier than expected today ahead of her bone marrow transplant
He added: 'It has always been clear where Robin
got her strength, faith and spirit. You didn't need to look far.'
As well as daughters Robin and Sally-Ann, Lucimarian is survived by son, Butch, and daughter Dorothy.
The Roberts family has not revealed the cause of death. They plan to hold a small, private memorial service.
Announcing her unexpected early departure on yesterday's show, Robin told viewers: 'I had planned to let tomorrow be the
last day… and then something's happened at home and I wanna take care
of that before I begin my treatment next week.'
Robin also tweeted her followers that morning, adding: 'Dear ones, this is my final morn @GMA for a while.
Heading home after the show to be w/ my ailing mom in MS (Mississippi).
You'll be in my heart & soul.'
During yesterday's broadcast, country star Martina McBride dedicated a performance to Robin, who tearfully sang along.
Brave face: Robin will begin treatment next week after being diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome
Emotional farewell: Robin with co-presenters Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer yesterday
Last day at the office… for now: Robin greeted fans and well-wishers outside the New York studios yesterday
The broadcaster has vowed to return to work following her treatment.
Earlier in the week, Robin talked about her treatment on air.
'I'll begin the process. It still
takes about ten days after being admitted because there are some things
you have to go through before the (bone marrow) transplant actually
Robin's sister, Sally-Ann, has been 'getting shots' in preparation to be her donor. The transplant will take place next Tuesday.
The popular anchor was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, earlier this year.
Her sister was found to be a perfect match as a donor for the disease which attacks blood cells and bone.
Robin, who survived a breast cancer
in 2007, said on GMA one of the toughest things she had to do was to
move her dog, KJ, out of the house while she undergoes the surgery.
Reaching out: The host also took to Twitter to update her followers. Today was initially set to be her last day
Support: Robin's sister Sally is her donor for the transplant and appeared with her on the show yesterday
met friends from Maine in Portsmouth, New Hampshire over the weekend
and handed over KJ and added on her Twitter account that she 'cried like
Robin previously said: 'KJ has
been in my life almost 15 years. She's up in Maine now because when you
have a bone marrow transplant you don't have an immune system for a
while. And you're very susceptible to infection. And having a dog coming
in and out … that was really hard.'
Producers of GMA plan a segment called 'Robin's journey' to show viewers of where she stands with the illness.
Robin told viewers last month that she was anticipating a medical leave in
late August, though she had not set a specific date until the
announcement on today's GMA.