The "Good Morning America" anchor is being saluted for how she kept viewers involved in her treatments for two serious illnesses. She had breast cancer in 2007 and last year had to undergo a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder. Roberts returned to "Good Morning America" last month.
Roberts came to sister company ABC from ESPN, where she was the network's first black female sportscaster.
Most past awards recipients have sports connections, like former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt last year. But the ESPYs also have honoured Nelson Mandela and the four men who tried to stop one of the Sept. 11 hijackings.