There comes a time in the career of every basketball player when you just have to hang them up and retire from playing the game. But sometimes, you can find the fountain of youth in the most unexpected years. That is precisely what happened to the hero of our story, Ken Paul Mink, the 73-year-old college basketball player.
A handful of basketball players in history looked way older than their age, but Ken is one of the rare that actually was that old. His story began way back in the early 1950s in Jackson, Kentucky, where he attended Leigh’s college and played on the basketball team. It wasn’t the most prestigious college when it came to basketball, but they were decent. Unfortunately for Ken, his time at the program was cut short due to him pulling a prank on the coach during his sophomore year. As a result, drastic measures were taken with Ken being expelled from the University and kicked off the team.
Ken had no other choice but to continue down a different path, as he joined the Military and spent over 40 years working as a journalist. But even though his life changed dramatically, Ken still felt the need to finish what he started in his college days. Losing his basketball career because of a prank he never did, haunted him as he began to play again in a recreational league. It was good, but Ken had higher aspirations. He wanted to play college ball.
Luckily for him, even though the NCAA is strict with their rules about age and eligibility, junior colleges have no limitations, as you can play on a basketball team if you meet your academic requirements. So in 2007, at 73 years olds, Ken made it his mission to get into a college basketball program as a player. And after numerous e-mails, Ken finally got an answer from coach Randy Nesbit at Roane State, giving him a spot on his team.
Ken was in shock and happy, as coach Nesbit loved the e-mail and admitted he is a sucker for good stories like this. Just like that, Ken Paul Mink was a member of the Roane State basketball team in his 70’s. In the beginning, Ken struggled to adapt and compete with his younger teammates, but slowly and surely made improvements, learning the sets
and showcasing some fundamentals skills that even suprised the coach.
Then the day finally came, and Ken got his moment, checking late into a blowout game versus King College and drawing the foul. He would sink both of his free throws and write his name into the history books as the oldest player to ever score in a college game. The rest of the season went better than expected for him as he played in seven games while scoring in three of them. He would finally accomplish something that he was forced to quit over 50 years ago and leave on his own terms.
The worst part of this story is that in 2008 ESPN conducted an investigation on the 1952 prank that got Ken suspended and revealed that he didn’t do it. An unfair way to force him out ended up with a heart-warming end for Ken, getting the opportunity to play basketball again and show everybody he had and still has a game.