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Former UNLV baseball coach Tim Chambers dies at 54

Updated October 28, 2019 - 7:04 pm

Former UNLV baseball coach Tim Chambers, who led the Rebels to their most recent postseason appearance, died Sunday night at 54.

Chambers’ wife, Kimberlie, said Chambers appeared to be in good health before he collapsed. He underwent foot surgery on Wednesday, and his wife said there didn’t appear to be any complications from that.

Over the past several years, she said Chambers had undergone four surgeries on his spine, three on his foot and two on his shoulder.

“This is 100 percent unexpected,” Kimberlie Chambers said. “He had been working out. This was the healthiest he had been in years. The latest (surgery) was minor compared to the others, That’s what is so ironic.”

A representative of the Clark County coroner’s office said the cause of death is pending. An exam was done Monday, and further testing is needed. It typically takes six to eight weeks to determine a cause of death in a pending case.

Chambers died at 11:52 p.m. Sunday at Summerlin Hospital.

“We’re all just in shock,” Kimberlie Chambers said.

Chambers coached the Rebels to a 157-132 record between 2011 and 2015. UNLV won the Mountain West regular-season championship in 2014 and advanced to the NCAA regionals in Corvallis, Oregon. Chambers was named conference Coach of the Year that season.

“He loved his kids,” said current UNLV coach Stan Stolte, who was the associate head coach and oversaw the pitching staff under Chambers. “He loved his coaches. He was always upbeat and positive, and we had a lot of great laughs together. I just miss hearing his laugh.”

In addition to his time at UNLV, a Chambers-coached team won the 2003 junior college national championship at College of Southern Nevada and six Sunset Division titles at Bishop Gorman High School.

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper was among the players Chambers coached. Harper left Las Vegas High School after his sophomore season and enrolled at CSN, where he played for Chambers for a year before being selected first overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.

Harper’s brother, Bryan, was a pitcher on that CSN team. He began his career at Cal State Northridge before transferring to play for Chambers. Bryan Harper went on to play for South Carolina and later advanced to Triple-A.

“I’ve known him since I was 10, 11 years old,” said Bryan Harper. “It was such an easy thing to do to pick up a phone and have that opportunity to go and play for him and him to be able to open up a spot for me. He did that for a lot of guys. … He did these things because he knew how important it was to take care of the Vegas boys.

“I think I can speak for (Bryce). It set him up to be the first pick. Otherwise, he would’ve been two years more in high school. Tim helped us out with that.”

Legacy High baseball coach Joey Lauria played for Chambers at UNLV and has credited him for reviving his playing career. Lauria even turned down an opportunity to pitch in the Phillies’ minor-league system after getting drafted in the 25th round four years ago so that he could be a graduate assistant under Chambers.

“Me and Skip had a great relationship,” Lauria said in a text message. “I loved going to battle for him every time I touched the mound.”

Chambers’ time at UNLV was cut short after he resigned in December 2015 following his arrest more than two months earlier for driving under the influence of Ativan, a drug used to treat anxiety. He later pleaded no contest to DUI charges and went on to complete court-mandated classes.

Chambers told the Review-Journal in 2017 that he was sober after a battle with alcoholism and hoped he could coach again.

Chambers never received the coaching opportunity he sought.

“Timmy had a tough last couple of years,” said Don Logan, president of the Las Vegas Aviators. “It’s really sad, just terrible for his family. It’s just awful. It breaks your heart.”

In addition to Kimberlie, Chambers is survived by his daughters, McKenzie and Chase. Funeral services are pending.

Las Vegas Review-Journal staff writers Mary Hynes and Ron Kantowski contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter. Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter. Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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