The bittersweet reason behind those NC State coaches' beards

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- You've seen the beards on NC State coaches, such as basketball coach Mark Gottfried -- now meet the man for whom they're being grown.

That would be Chris Combs, a former NC State baseball player and now Wolfpack Club associate director.

It started when Combs noticed he began having trouble buttoning the top button of his shirts, particularly when he wore a tie.

"Chris was having a tough time buttoning his shirts, and needed me to help him," said his wife, Gena Combs, trying to hold back tears.

That seemingly trifling annoyance turned into a six-month long medical odyssey that culminated with a diagnosis of ALS.

"Tons of emotions flood through you," Chris Combs said.

There is no cure for ALS.


As NC State families go, you'd be hard-pressed to find one with redder blood than the Combs family.

Chris Combs's father, Francis Combs was also an NC State baseball player, and a high school teammate of pitching legend Jim "Catfish" Hunter, who also had ALS.

On Thursday, as usual, they gathered together for Thanksgiving, a multi-generational group of Wolfpack athletes and the ones they love.

That love is more important than ever now.

Watch the video to see and hear much more.

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