Memorial held for coach, family killed in Bryant crash

Sports

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A public memorial was held Monday for three members of a family who died along with Kobe Bryant and others when a helicopter carrying the group to a youth basketball tournament crashed in foggy weather outside Los Angeles.

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.

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.

Altobelli, 56, won more than 700 games at Orange Coast during his more than two decades devoted to the school’s team. The American Baseball Coaches Association named him its coach of the year last year after he guided the Pirates to their fourth state title.

The coach known as “Alto” also managed the Brewster Whitecaps for three seasons in the Cape Cod Summer League. Among the players he coached there were New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil.

His daughter attended Ensign Intermediate School in Newport Beach, which retired her basketball jersey. She hoped to someday attend the University of Oregon, like her favorite basketball player, Sabrina Ionescu.

Altobelli is survived by a son, J.J., who is a scout with the Boston Red Sox, and a 16-year-old daughter, Lexi.

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.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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