Angel Stadium

Altobelli Family Members Killed in Helicopter Crash Mourned at Angel Stadium

John and Keri Altobelli, and the couple's 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, had forged a bond with Kobe Bryant that was rooted in their love of sports.

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The Altobellis were remembered by loved ones and strangers in a celebration of life at Angel Stadium. Hetty Chang reported on NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.

What to Know

  • John and Keri Altobelli, and their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, were remembered Monday at an Angel Stadium memorial
  • The group was flying from Orange County to the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park
  • John Altobelli coached baseball at Orange Coast College for nearly 30 years, racking up 700 wins and four state titles

Three members of a beloved Orange County family who were among nine people killed when a helicopter crashed on a hillside in Calabasas were remembered Monday at a moving ceremony at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

The service at Angel Stadium of Anaheim began with a reading of the nine names of the victims of the helicopter crash, including Bryant and his daughter. It honored Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and teenage daughter Alyssa, who played basketball on Bryant's youth team.

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From top-left, clockwise: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli and pilot Ara Zobayan, died on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, after the helicopter they traveled in crashed in Los Angeles.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers leaves the court after the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list with a free throw during the second quarter.
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ORLANDO, FL – JUNE 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles with his wife Vanessa and his daughters Natalia and Gianna after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. Kobe and Gianna tragically died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, Jan. 26, 2020. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 17: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during the post game news conference with daughters Natalia and Gianna Bryant as he celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 29: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 17: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on November 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
OCC
This undated photo released by Orange Coast College shows its head baseball coach John Altobelli. The Altobelli family has confirmed that John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa were among those killed in the helicopter crash with NBA icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Calabasas, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Alyssa played on the same team as Gianna, said Altobelli’s brother Tony, who is the sports information director at the school. (Orange Coast College via AP)
<strong>John Altobelli, Wife Keri and Daughter Alyssa<br></strong>Just as Bryant was passionate about basketball, John Altobelli 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. Last year, he was the American Baseball Coaches Association as an ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year. Wife Keri and daughter Alyssa also were killed in Sunday's crash.
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Payton played basketball with Bryant's daughter Gianna. Family members said she loved playing the game and described Sarah as the heart of their family.<br><br>
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.
Christina Mauser was a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school. She is survived by her husband, who founded a popular Orange County band, and three young children. Her husband said she worked with Bryant at a clinic at Mamba Sports Academy.

A podium erected on the field was adorned with flower bouquets, sports jerseys and photos. In one, Alyssa was show clutching a basketball and smiling.

A photo slideshow was shown on stadium screens of the family at baseball and basketball events, boating, laughing and sitting by a chimney covered with Christmas stockings.

Pastor Erik Rees said he met John Altobelli for the first time eight years ago when Rees was grieving the loss of his 12-year-old daughter to cancer.

Altobelli, who dedicated a game to her, met Rees at third base and hugged him, Rees said.

"That is one of the many things I am going to miss, is an 'Alto' hug," Rees told the crowd.

The 45,000-seat stadium is a fitting location to honor a family with close ties to Orange County and the baseball community.

John Altobelli, 56, coached baseball for 27 years at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. The Pirates won four state titles and more than 700 games under Altobelli, who was honored with a moment of silence before the team's season opener just days after the tragic crash.

The college's baseball foundation started a fundraiser to help the family with expenses and the team has placed a banner bearing his No. 14 on the outfield wall.

They made everyone feel like an Altobelli or a Pirate

OCC interim coach Nate Johnson

More than 2,000 people attended the game, including the Altobellis' son J.J., a scout with the Boston Red Sox, and 16-year old daughter Lexi. They received hugs from each team member after the emotional game.

“They made everyone feel like an Altobelli or a Pirate," interim manager Nate Johnson said in a pregame ceremony. "That's why so many people are wearing 14 today. I know if (Keri) were here she would be judging me on everything I’d be doing. (Keri) really ran this team."

Altobelli's brother, Tony Altobelli, works for the college's sports public relations department. He posted a touching tribute delivered as a thank-you letter to his brother.

"He worked hard at what he did, everything he did," said John Altobelli's father, Jim.

Alyssa's goal was to attend Oregon because her favorite basketball player was college hoops star Sabrina Ionescu. J.J. attended Oregon after playing for his father at Orange Coast.

Alyssa Altobelli died in the helicopter crash on Sunday that also claimed the lives of her mother and father. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.

Johnson told the OC Register that Alyssa and sister Alexis were batgirls for their father's team. He described the Altobellis as the First Family of OCC.

Alyssa was in the eighth grade at Ensign Intermediate School.

Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people died Jan. 26 when the helicopter crashed into a hillside outside Los Angeles. Also killed in the crash were Bryant friends Christina Mauser, who helped coach the girls' team, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, and the helicopter pilot, Ara Zobayan,

A public memorial for the former Lakers superstar, his daughter and other victims of the crash is scheduled for Feb. 24 at Staples Center.