Kobe Bryant

Remembering the Nine People Who Died in the 2020 Calabasas Helicopter Crash

Nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, were on a helicopter when it crashed into a hillside in the Calabasas area northwest of Los Angeles.

NBCLA Los Angeles lost an icon, and the city mourned the death of Kobe Bryant. Beverly White reported on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

A basketball icon, his 13-year-old daughter, young basketball players who shared a passion for the game and their family members were among those killed when a helicopter crashed into a hillside on a foggy morning northwest of Los Angeles.

The group, which formed a bond through sports, was on its way to a girls basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. The Sikorsky S-76B left John Wayne Airport in Orange County just after 9 a.m., then made a U-turn in the Calabasas area, climbed and then made a steep descent.

Here are the victims killed two years ago in the Jan. 26, 2020 crash.

Five families altogether lost their loved ones in the helicopter accident that killed Kobe Bryant. Christine Kim reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.

Kobe Bryant
The 41-year-old Lakers great and others on the helicopter were flying to the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park for a girls basketball tournament. Bryant often took helicopters to avoid Los Angeles' notorious traffic. He retired in 2016 from the NBA after 20 seasons with the Lakers, finishing his legendary career third on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He won five NBA titles. He worked with younger generations of players at the Mamba Sports Academy and devoted time to charities and other causes off the court.

In the months following his death, basketball fans and others who were inspired by Bryant remembered him with murals and other heartfelt tributes.

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Kobe Bryant poses for a portrait after being selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft on June 26, 1996 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West boldly trades his starting center, Vlade Divac, to the Charlotte Hornets for Bryant, a 17-year-old prodigy from the Philadelphia suburbs by way of Italy. Nearly two decades later, Bryant has become the top scorer in the history of the 16-time NBA champion franchise, which happened to be his favorite team growing up.
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Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for one of his slam dunks that won first place in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest at Gund Arena on February 8, 1997 in Cleveland, Ohio.
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Bryant has 26 points and 10 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, teaming with Shaquille O'Neal and coach Phil Jackson to lead the Lakers to their first championship together. They won it all in each of the next two seasons as well, establishing the first dynasty of the 21st Century.
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Shaquille O’Neal #34 and Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers pose for a photo after the Lakers’ 2001 NBA Championship parade held June 18, 2001 in Los Angeles, California.
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Bryant scores 30 points in the Lakers' 112-106 overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, ending one of the greatest playoff series in NBA history. The Lakers swept New Jersey to win their third straight title in the anticlimactic NBA Finals.
An ordinary Sunday home game in a mediocre Lakers season turns into magic when Bryant goes off for 81 points, the second-highest total in NBA history. He mostly did it on jumpers in a close game, hitting seven 3-pointers while going 28 for 46 from the field and 18 for 20 from the line. Sure, he only had two assists. Not a soul at Staples Center cared.
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(L-R) Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Chris Bosh of the United States hold their gold medals after defeating Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on Aug. 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.
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President Barack Obama (R) poses for photographs with Kobe Bryant (C), Derek Fisher and members of the National Basketball Association 2009 champions Los Angeles Lakers in the East Room of the White House January 25, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Lakers bested the Orlando Magic to win the NBA Finals in 2009.
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Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after winning over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
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Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks towards the tunnel after scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
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Kobe Bryant smiles at halftime as both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Gianna Bryant
Kobe Bryant's 13-year-old daughter was a rising youth star, often seen court-side immersed in the action at Lakers games. Better known as Gigi, she was the second-oldest of the Bryants' four children. Her mother, Vanessa Bryant, delivered a heartbreaking tribute to her at a Staples Center memorial for the crash victims

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Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant attend the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks on December 29, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” said Vanessa Bryant, who had been with Kobe since 1999. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. We’re still the best team.”

Tony Altobelli remembered the day when his brother, sister-in-law and niece died in the helicopter crash. Vikki Vargas reported on NBC4 News on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.

John Altobelli, Wife Keri and Daughter Alyssa
Just as Bryant was passionate about basketball, John Altobelli, 56, had a deep love for the game of baseball. He coached at Orange Coast College. He was with the program for 27 years, leading the Pirates to four state titles en route to more than 700 career wins. In 2019, he was the American Baseball Coaches Association as an ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year. Wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, 14, also were killed in the crash. They were honored at an Angel Stadium memorial.

"The legacy they left will continue to live on through all of us," son JJ Altobelli said at the memorial.

Instead of shooting it and probably making her 12th basket, she would pass it to me so I could make my first. When I missed, she would look at me and say, 'Good try, you'll get the next one.'

Sammy Forbath, describing friend Alyssa Altobelli

Alyssa friend Sammy Forbath remembered her as a selfless teammate who tried to make others around her better.

"Instead of shooting it and probably making her 12th basket, she would pass it to me so I could make my first," Forbath said at the memorial. "When I missed, she would look at me and say, 'Good try, you'll get the next one.'"

The Altobellis will be remembered Tuesday during an Orange Coast College memorial.

Christina Mauser
Mauser was a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school and the Mamba Academy team. She is survived by her husband, who founded a popular Orange County band, and three young children. Husband Matt Mauser shared an emotional remembrance of his wife on TODAY following the crash.

"She was extraordinary,'' he said. "She was incredibly witty, funny, funny like nobody you've ever met. She was warm, she was incredibly bright, she was technologically incredibly savvy. She could figure out anything."

Sarah Chester and Daughter Payton Chester
Payton, 13, played basketball with Bryant's daughter Gianna. Family members said she loved playing the game and described Sarah, 45, as the heart of their family. Payton led her middle school basketball team and dreamed of playing in the WNBA.

"Payton was perfect. She saw the best in each person, and it is impossible to describe the impact of her smile, laugh and compassion on the lives of everyone around her," father Chris Chester said. "She loved her Team Mamba girls more than anything in the world and considered them her second family."

Sarah Chester had been married to Chris Chester for more than 20 years. Sarah Chester was also an alumna of Whittier College, where she played volleyball and met Chris. They have two other children, both boys.

Family Photo
Payton Chester and mother Sarah Chester are pictured in this undated photo. Credit: Family Photo

Ara Zobayan

Ara Zobayan, an instructor and charter pilot who had flown celebrities like Kylie Jenner and her niece Dream, was at the helm of the helicopter as it traveled to Newbury Park where the girls aboard were to have a basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.

Courtesy of Margaret Bray
Ara Zobayan, described as an experienced instructor and charter pilot who had flown celebrities like Kylie Jenner and her niece Dream and Lorenzo Lamas, was at the helm of the helicopter as it traveled to Newbury Park where the girls aboard were to have a basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy. He and all aboard, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, perished in the crash Jan. 26, 2020.