DETROIT (AP) — Ex-NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has come to Detroit to help honor winners of the Ford Freedom Award student essay contest.

Sixteen-hundred students were on hand Thursday for the ceremony at the University of Detroit Mercy’ Calihan Hall, the Titans’ basketball arena.

The Detroit News ( ) reports that contest official Sharon Martin says 1,912 essays were submitted from across Michigan.

The essay topic was the importance of teamwork. Participants were in fourth through eighth grade.

The first place winner was RaKwan Weeden of Highland Park.

Abdul-Jabbar says he’s grateful for those who paved the way for his basketball success.

He played at UCLA, then had two decades in the NBA. He’s the league’s all-time scoring leader with 38,387 points for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers in 1969-89.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.