- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Come to think of it, there might just be one exception: Ken Mink, the 73-year-old Roane State player whose story drew scores of headlines and “Today Show” appearances when the Knoxville News-Sentinel first reported it in 2008. Fascinated, ESPN’s Wright Thompson dug in, and what he found — a “man who seems to take as gospel the story he has chosen to tell about his life” — was less heartwarming than bizarre, less inspiring than sad.
It seems safe to tag the latest in this genre in the ranks of the former. It also has its own unique hook. Not only is there an older gentleman playing basketball with a bunch of millennials, but the gentleman in question — 55-year-old Minnesotan Paul Ruter — is the father of one of his teammates, son Caleb Ruter.
The story, via CBS Minneapolis, goes like this: When Paul Ruter was his son’s age, he left his hometown of Hanover, Minn., to play college basketball at Emmaus College in Dubuque, Iowa. But he returned home after just one semester to take over the family farm because he loved it, and wanted to raise his family on the land.
Thirty years later, his son enrolled to play basketball at Emmaus, and Ruter decided to soak up whatever remaining eligibility he could. Emmaus College is a tiny, 200-enrollment Bible-focused school in the Association of Christian College Athletics (the same level as Champion Baptist, last seen here), and that size and circumstance helped make Ruter’s return possible.
“I kind of pinch myself all the time,” Paul told CBS. “I get to play ball with my son.”
That’s adorable. Plus — actually, hey, wait a second. What does Caleb Ruter think of all this, anyway?
“Wait, what?,” Caleb said with a laugh, recalling his first reaction to the news of his father’s decision. “I think I just walked away.”
See? Entitled millenials, always with their video games and their Mountain Dew Code Red and their heads in their phones, he probably didn’t even notice that his dad was —
“He’s my best friend,” Caleb said. “He’s been my best friend my whole life, and it’s a blast having him on the team.”
All together now, you guys. On three. One, two, three: