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, MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome). Roberts returned to "Good Morning America" last month.
The award goes to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. Past honorees include Jim Valvano, Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith and Billie Jean King.
"When I got the call, I was speechless," Roberts told ESPN's Hannah Storm.
Before her time on "Good Morning America," Roberts was one of the first female sports anchors on ESPN in the 1990s. She played four seasons for the Southeastern Louisiana University women's basketball team and ranks among the team's leaders for points scored, rebounds, field goals made and games played.
"Robin brings an amazing amount of energy, compassion and determination to everything she does," said ESPN president John Skipper. "Those qualities made her an incredible asset during her time here at ESPN, and they have served her well as she battled the terrible health challenges that she's had to face."
The ESPYS will air on ESPN on July 17 at 9 p.m.
ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.