Detroit Pistons, Rick Mahorn Award Detroit Students $100k at Black History Month Scholarship Event

For 19 years, Detroit “Bad Boy” Rick Mahorn has been teaming up with the Detroit Pistons Foundation to host a Black History Month Scholarship event and award Detroit high school students with tens of thousands of dollars in secondary education funding.


This year was no different, as several DPS students showcased to a panel of judges how they embody Black excellence before six were chosen to share $100,000 in scholarship money to aid in paying for their college educations.


The grand prize winner was King Bethel of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. He performed in the poetry slam competition and was named the recipient of the Earl Lloyd Award. For his first-place vote, he received a $25,000 scholarship. The award is named after Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and Alexandria, Virginia native Earl Lloyd, who was the first Black man to play in the NBA in 1950.


Karis Robinson, a student at Marygrove, finished in second place in the poetry contest and received a $15,000 scholarship in partnership with Priority Health, and CarRyn Gilbert of Cass Tech took home third place, receiving a $10,000 scholarship in partnership with Stackwell.


In addition to the slam poetry competition, the Black History Month Scholarship Event also featured a poster contest where students will design a poster with the theme, “How do you embody Black excellence?”. The first-place winner of the poster contest was Leah Vaughn, a student at U Prep Academy. She took home $25,000 and the inaugural Earl Cureton Award. The first-place award in the poster contest was posthumously named for Cureton, a longtime participant in the scholarship program after he suddenly passed away earlier this month. Cureton was a 10-year Pistons community relations team member who spent 12 seasons as an NBA player and had his most impressive seasons in the league as a player for the Detroit Pistons.


“Since Earl began as a Community Ambassador for the Detroit Pistons, he’s joined Pistons Legend Rick Mahorn in celebrating Black History Month at the annual scholarship event. The scholarship event was one of Earl’s favorite community events to take part in as he saw the talented Detroit students perform and celebrate their Black Excellence,” the Pistons organization said in a statement. “After his passing, the organization and his good friend, Rick Mahorn, wanted to honor Earl’s legacy by naming the annual poster contest winner the Earl Cureton Scholarship Award recipient, which was won this year by Leah Vaughn of U Prep Academy.”


Second-place winner Lauryn Benning, also a Marygrove student, won a $15,000 scholarship in partnership with the Children’s Foundation, and third-place winner Sol Newton, a Loyola student, took home a $10,000 scholarship in partnership with United Dairy Industry of Michigan.


All contestants participating in the event also received computers on behalf of Human IT. Since establishing the annual Black History Month Scholarship event in 2005, the Detroit Pistons have awarded scholarships to over 100 students totaling over $750,000.


Judges for the Black History Month Scholarship Event included Mahorn; Kelly Britain, the Children’s Foundation; Shannon Wilson, Priority Health; Aaron Scott, United Dairy Industry of Michigan; Jennifer Jambor, Human IT; and Amyre Makupson, CBS Detroit.

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