Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts: 'Parents came to know the Lord' through his cancer battle

Dave Roberts wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else. But as for his own battle with cancer?

“Even after all this, I would do it again,” the Los Angeles Dodgers manager said recently on the Get in the Game Podcast. “I think my faith got me through it emotionally and mentally. The doctors were amazing. I just really believe that my faith got me through it.”

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The main reason, though, was that his “parents came to know the Lord” through that experience. Roberts described that as “a huge win for me personally.”

“I don’t wish it upon anyone, but I felt like it happened for a reason,” he said. “I came out on the other side and I have a story to tell.”

Roberts was working as a special assistant for the San Diego Padres, not long after his playing career had ended. The previous year he was working in television for the Padres, and he said that if he’d done TV again that season, it’s likely that he wouldn’t have gotten the physical that was required of him prior to spring training for his front office job.

It was that physical in 2010 that led doctors to discover that he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a relatively rare, yet aggressive form of cancer. An estimated 8,830 Americans will be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2021, and 960 people will die from it, according to cancer.net.

When it was detected in Roberts, it was already in Stage 2.

“They said if it had been a couple months later, it could’ve been Stage 3, Stage 4, and then it’s in your blood and you’ve got a different issue,” he said.

Once he learned that it was cancer, he was ready to face it head-on right away. He even continued to work for the Padres while receiving treatments.

“Tricia, my wife, really just took the lead and loved on me,” he said. “She did everything from meals to taking me to chemotherapy.”

Years later, Roberts is a world-champion manager and just the second Black manager to win a World Series, a mark he’s proud of. He was also named the 2016 National League Manager of the Year.

But Roberts has never been about himself — when he was a player, dealing with his cancer diagnosis or now as a manager. It’s always been about gratitude and serving others.

He said it’s easy for people to look internally and focus on themselves, especially in particularly hard personal seasons, but the true mark of a person is how well they serve others. That’s the culture he’s tried to instill in the Dodgers clubhouse.

“I just really believe that having that sense of that servant mindset to want to help others, it always kind of gets you back to that gratitude piece that, you know, we’ve got it pretty good,” he said. “There’s other things outside of baseball. I think that ultimately will make you a better person and a better ballplayer.”

Roberts and the Dodgers open the season on Thursday on the road against the division-rival Colorado Rockies, as L.A. looks to defend its World Series championship.

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