Pistons Owner Tom Gores and Detroit Pistons Foundation Fund Scholarships Supporting Detroit Public School Students
Brian Sevald/Pistons photo
Equality: What does it mean to you? That was the question posed to Detroit Public school students on Thursday, February 8 as part of former Pistons Bad Boy Rick Mahorn’s 13th annual Black History Month scholarship competition at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).
The event offered 10 Detroit high school seniors the opportunity to compete for a combined total of $55,000 in college scholarships funded by Pistons Owner Tom Gores, Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem, the Detroit Pistons Foundation.
“We have the ability to affect kids in positive ways,” said Gores. “It’s probably one of the most amazing things to me in owning a sports team is how you’re impacting the community.”
Each student presented an original interpretation of this year’s theme through a chosen artistic medium of their choice (speech, poem, dance, rap, etc.). Competitors shared what equality means to them both through personal experiences as well as past and current affairs. The event was part of the NBA’s month-long Black History Month Celebration with localized events in each NBA city.
Spoken word essays, musical expressions, dance ensembles and a tribute to Tupac were judged by a celebrity panel including former Detroit Mayor and hall of fame Pistons’ player Dave Bing, Pistons forward Stanley Johnson, local news anchors Rhonda Walker and Josh Landon and Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield.
“We have so many amazing students that are doing well in school and I’m just excited to be part of this,” commented Sheffield.
Four winners were awarded scholarship money with the top prize, a $25,000 scholarship commemorating the trailblazing efforts of former Piston Earl Lloyd, awarded to Cornerstone Leadership High School senior Charity Turnboe.
“Equality to me is communal access,” Turnboe said following her performance. “I wanted (them to) physically see that minority groups do not have access to resources the same way some people do. That was my goal for today and I think I accomplished that.”
Turnboe has her sights set on college with interest in attending Pomona College or Georgetown University.
Pistons Legend Rick Mahorn, who hosts the event each year as a tribute to the legacy of his mother, Alice, cherishes the opportunity to impact local youth while building their confidence and ambitions to achieve in life.
“You’ve got to put yourself out there and somebody’s going to notice that,” said Mahorn. “I want these kids to know that opportunity is there – you just need to be persistent, seize the moment and prepare for success.”
Stanley Johnson, active in a number of projects aimed to support Detroit youth, participated for the second year and touts his passion for this event as a result of his affinity for the arts.
“I’m really into the arts and things like that and I think the kids work really, really hard on these projects,” said Johnson. “I think my favorite one was the Tupac one – which I’m kind of big on that too.”