Detroit Pistons and Rick Mahorn Team Up For Black History Month Scholarship Event Benefiting Detroit Youth


Since 2005 over 100 students have walked away with $650,000 in scholarships awarded by the Detroit Pistons Foundation. I walked away from my first experience at the event inspired and impacted not just by art, but the vision of leaders.

The Detroit Pistons Foundation and Rick Mahorn hosted the 18th annual Black History Month Scholarship Event benefiting students of Detroit area schools. This years winners received over $100,000 in combined scholarship funds for showcasing how are ‘Different by Design’.

It’s an occasion that helps amplify the voice, creativity and passion of aspiring black youth skilled in poetry and art. And what better stage than the Detroit Institute of Art to showcase the next gems of the city? Considered one of the jewels of Detroit, the venue was filled with students, faculty, family and media eager to support.

Unfortunately Mahorn couldn’t attend this years event, but did provide a touching video message wishing everyone good luck. And introduced this year’s theme “How are you different by design”, futher explaining its importance. He continued “this is very important to me because I want you to know what black history is about. And not only your black history, but history in general and what makes us different by design.”

City of Detroit and Pistons legend Earl “the Twirl” Cureton accepted hosting duties and meeting with media in his place. “I’m gracious Rick gave me a chance to come in a work with him on this event,” Cureton said to Woodward Sports Network. “Bringing this to the city has been great for the city of Detroit giving kids a chance to earn a scholarships, and learn their black history.”

For the Community First

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores made a commitment to the city of Detroit to get in the community and make a difference. Cureton spoke on the organizations goals being how they change lives positively.

“I know for a fact because I grew up right here on the east side of Detroit,” Cureton beamed. I went through the PSL and to have the opportunity to engage with our youth and educate them on voting, educate them on black history, building the playgrounds and all that we do, it’s been positive.”

“This is no talk, we walking it. This is what we’re doing, I’m involved with it all.”

Cureton continued to exclaim how personally connected to these efforts he is, and named others passionately working to make a difference. Specially noting Pistons vice president Arn Tellem and his wife Nancy, for their work benefiting the PSL. (Detroit’s Public School League)

The Tellem’s also support Jalen Rose’s efforts with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit Michigan. Making their presence and impact felt financially, as well as in person.

Cureton wrapped our interview proudly stating “I’m totally invested in the city, and really happy about what we are doing.”

Meet the Winners

The winners were selected by supporters, and a select panel of judges that included Pistons legends, local media and business leaders. But they also provided invaluable life and professional experiences to encourage the next generation.

Dariana Mallet  – Earl Lloyd Award  (Poetry) – Title: Black Girl Speak

Dariana Mallet, of Mary Grove High School, won the poetry portion of the event and was awarded the grand prize $25,000 scholarship. The award is named after Earl Lloyd, the first African American player in the NBA. He was also the first African American assistant coach, and third head coach in history while with the Detroit Pistons.

The inspiration behind Mallet’s art spoke to the experiences of the black women in her life, and building on their wisdom while learning from past mistakes.

Mallet aimed to convey a message of hope and encouragement with her art. Not just for black women, but all people. “Take advantage of every opportunity. Even those who didn’t win, you still put your name out there. Just do it.”

Nala White  – Different By Design Poster Competition – Title: Untitled

Nala White, of Cass Tech High School, won the poster competition and the $20,000 scholarship awarded for first place.

Inspired by her past, White hoped to convey a message of positively impacting the future, avoiding previous mistakes. She wanted to inspire creating new paths, rather than retracing old ones.

What’s Next

Jaden Ivey and the Detroit Pistons face Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, February 23rd at 7:00 PM.

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Photo Credit: Brandon Dent – Woodward Sports Network