LAS VEGAS Five years ago, Nick Minnerath drove 900 miles from Massachusetts to Michigan to try out for a community college team.
But that wasn't the toughest part of Minnerath's journey to the Kings' summer-league team. He made that drive after ending two years of drug abuse following high school, where he barely played on the basketball team and broke his leg his senior season.
Before heading to Michigan, he worked as a taxi driver, in construction and at a convenience store.
Once in Michigan, he landed a spot on the Jackson Community College team, then earned a scholarship to the University of Detroit Mercy.
Minnerath didn't show up to the Jackson tryout wearing the latest basketball shoes. Instead, he grabbed some low-cost shoes endorsed by former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury.
"Yes, the $7 Starburys," Minnerath said. "I didn't care. I just needed a pair of hoop shoes when I went to junior college, and those just happened to be it."
Minnerath tore his ACL and MCL early in the 2011-12 season at Detroit Mercy and redshirted, but he bounced back to make the All-Horizon League first team this past season and land an invitation to play on the Kings' summer-league team.
"It's an incredible blessing to be here," Minnerath said. "This is obviously where I wanted to be, in Vegas at this point. The goal that I had set, and it's a blessing to be here."
Minnerath, a 6-foot-9 forward, averaged 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds for Detroit Mercy, where he was a teammate of Kings second-round draft choice Ray McCallum.
"He has a crazy life story," McCallum said. "Just what he had to go through just to get to college and when he got to college a tragic knee injury and all the rehab, time and effort he put into it. It paid off; he was great for our team, and now it's great for him to get the opportunity to play in summer league."
The Kings invited Minnerath to play on the summer-league team after he participated in a predraft workout June 21.
"I had a lot of great workouts," Minnerath said. "And after my workout, they contacted my agent and asked if I wanted to play for their summer-league team, and it felt like the best opportunity, the best fit."
Basketball gave Minnerath the chance to earn his college degree in communications, and he's enjoying his time with the Kings.
"This is just an opportunity and something to have fun with," Minnerath said. "It's just been such a blessing to (have basketball) put me through school and to continue to have success after college."
Final additions Forward Drew Gordon and guard David Lighty participated in their first practice with the Kings on Thursday.
Gordon and Lighty were playing in the Orlando summer league, Gordon with Utah and Lighty with Brooklyn.