The Reverend Jesse Jackson honored Richard Lapchick, director of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program, with a lifetime achievement award for his work in civil rights. Lapchick was honored at a special awards banquet during the Rainbow Push Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund’s 38th Annual Conference in Chicago.

The award was presented to Lapchick by life-long friend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The former basketball star requested to present the award to Lapchick because of his close relationship with him. During his introduction, Abdul-Jabbar explained to the audience that the two of them had known each other since they were teenagers attending summer camp. During the camp, someone called him a racial slur (he was known as Lew Alcindor back then) and Lapchick defended him. As a result, the “bully” knocked Lapchick unconscious, and Abdul-Jabbar and Lapchick have been friends ever since. “I realized some time ago, that the first time I actually took on my definition of a leader – someone who stands up for justice and doesn’t block its path – took place as a boy with Kareem,” said Lapchick.

In addition to being the director of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program in the College of Business Administration, Lapchick is the director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) and the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS).