The community college player from Knoxville, Tenn., defies stereotypes to become what may be the oldest college shooting guard in the world.
Carmen K. Sisson
The gray Cape Cod is easy to overlook on this quiet street in Knoxville, Tenn. No team pennants hang in the windows, no collegiate flags wave in the breeze. The parlor is surprisingly devoid of sports paraphernalia as well.
Paintings adorn the walls, and an eclectic mixture of books lines the bookshelves. There’s a mounted bass above the fireplace, and a cowhide rug covers the floor. If you ask, Ken Mink will show you the modest display of basketball medals he’s received. Otherwise, he won’t mention them at all.
This isn’t your typical college athlete’s home, but then, Mr. Mink isn’t your average basketball player. He’s climbed the Matterhorn. Parasailed over the Caribbean. Water-skied in Jamaica. And this fall, at age 73, he became what may be the world’s oldest college basketball player, joining Roane State Community College as a shooting guard and shattering stereotypes in a sport where youth is everything and players over the age of 25 are anomalies.
But Mink’s not looking to break records. He says he’s seeking redemption, attempting to fulfill a dream he’d abandoned and forgive a betrayal he can’t forget.
He left college in 1956 believing he’d never touch sneakers to hardwood again. Now he’s running suicide sprints, practicing free throws, lifting weights, and trading passes with players half a century younger.
Last fall, joining a college basketball team at his age seemed as likely as lapping Michael Phelps in the pool. He’d considered returning to school in his 20s, but by then he had a family. He played ball with his three children, but as the years passed, he thought less and less about joining a team again.
Page 1 of 4