Former NC State baseball star Combs dies at 45 from ALS

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Chris Combs was a father, he was a fundraiser and most of all, he was a fighter. ALS took him away from us Thursday morning at age 45, but what he's done the last four years to battle the disease ensures that his legacy will live forever.

Towering at six-foot-seven, Combs had the kind of handshake that would envelop your hand. That handshake became much more fragile these last few years.

"He loved playing a little prank on somebody or he loved it when someone got a prank on him. He laughed along with you. He wasn't one of those who got upset if you got one over on him." Bobby Purcell told ABC11.

The former director of the Wolfpack Club, Purcell was Combs' long-time boss and close friend.

"I used to get calls all the time after Chris had been on the road, all saying the same thing," Purcell said. "How much they appreciated the time and enjoyed being with him."

I first sat down with Combs and his family in 2016 when the reality of his diagnosis was just settling in.

"Tons of emotions flood through you and you kind of go to the end, to the, to the worst part first." Combs said at the time.

His wife, Gena, spoke through tears then.

"You begin by thinking this is kind of a nightmare," she said. "That the person you love more than anything is sick with something that there's no cure for."

What they had resolved from day one was that they as a family were going to fight and so that's what they did. There were high school baseball showcases to build awareness and the annual Hope Gala at The Umstead which raised millions for ALS research.

During our most recent sit-down, Chris was excitedly showing me all their auction items.
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Former State star Chris Combs is getting a lot of support as he continues his fight vs. ALS.

"The drive to raise awareness and raise funds is kind of what keeps me going." he told me then, in 2018.

Beyond all that what Chris had most to offer was an effortless kindness. If you ever met him, you immediately liked him.

"I don't think he had an enemy in the world. He was an easygoing, thoughtful, caring human being," Purcell said.

Combs and his family shouldn't have had to deal with ALS. No one should. He spent his last four years working toward making that an eventual reality.

As Gena said back in 2016, "What's been so incredible watching Chris go through this journey is that there's been so much joy. The outpouring of love for Chris and our family has been incredible."

Chris added: "Nobody knows how much time they have left so you just really have to enjoy each day you have."
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