06/17/2014 10:21 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Robin Roberts Wanted To Be Before She Became A Journalist (VIDEO)

If you had asked a young Robin Roberts what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have answered "professional athlete." A basketball player in middle school and high school, the now-famous journalist once towered over her classmates at 5-foot-10, dominating the court as a center. When she got to college, however, Roberts was told that her height was better suited for an outside shooter and had to learn a new position. That's when she gained an important lesson that served her well both on and off the court.

"I had to put myself in position for some good things to happen. If you position yourself the right way, you don't have to be the tallest, the fastest, the biggest," she tells "Oprah's Master Class" in the above video. "I was, thankfully, able to translate that to the real world. Going, 'Oh, okay. I'm not the prettiest, I'm not the most this, I'm not the most that. But… if I keep positioning myself, some good things are going to happen.'"

And good things have happened, from becoming well-known on Sportscenter to becoming co-anchor of "Good Morning America" -- even though Roberts' original career goals didn't have anything to do with journalism. In addition to basketball, Roberts also had a fondness for tennis, calling it her "real love" and sharing her dream of one day making it to Wimbledon.

"Let's be honest here: I wanted to be a professional athlete," she says. "But there is something called ability that you must have."

Yet, rather than completely letting go of her dream, Roberts redefined what achieving her goals would look like -- and decided to pursue a career in sports journalism. She worked at local stations in her home state of Mississippi before landing a job as a national sportscaster for ESPN.

"Let me tell you, with a mic in my hand instead of a tennis racket for ESPN when I went to cover it for the first time, to me, it was like, 'Check. Wimbledon,'" she says. "You have to be creative in reaching your goals."

This perspective, Roberts says, has helped frame much of her success.

"I think that's what's really helped me so much in my life, both professionally and personally, just not being too rigid," she says. "Having goals and setting goals, but being flexible with them and knowing that it might not quite look like I think it's going to look -- and that's okay. That's okay."

"Oprah's Master Class" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.

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