February 7, 2020

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A baseball coach, his wife and daughter were among victims in helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant – CNN

John Altobelli
“There were two sides to John,” Tony Altobelli said. “People saw him on the baseball field, he’s gritty and tough as nails kind of guy but the other side of him, he was one of the biggest-hearted people you’ll meet in your life. He cared about his players, cared about his school.”
Altobelli, 56, leaves behind a son and daughter, according to an OCC Pirate Athletics news release.
“It’s hard to put into words what this loss means to the college and the athletics department,” OCC Athletics Director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “John was a tremendous coach and an even better friend. Beyond that, he was an amazing mentor to all of the students and athletes that he taught and coached. He treated them all like family and his impact will live on forever.”
John Altobelli speaking to players
Coach “Alto,” as he was known, was gearing up to begin his 28th season with the Pirates, who he helped lead to the state baseball championship last year, the release said.
Throughout his career, he stacked more than 700 wins and in 2019 was named by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as the ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year, OCC said in a statement.
He was a “giant” on the campus, OCC President Angelica Suarez said, a “beloved teacher, coach, colleague and friend.”

A coach and mother also was killed

Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball school at a K-8 private school in Orange County also died in the crash.
“My kids and I are devastated,” her husband, Matt Mauser, wrote on Facebook. “We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.”
The mayor of Costa Mesa — about 40 miles from Los Angeles — also tweeted about Mauser.
“This devastating tragedy gets worse by the hour,” Mayor Katrina Foley wrote on Twitter. “So much pain for so many local families. Our hearts are broken & grieving for the families impacted.”
US Rep. Harley E. Rouda of California called the loss of life “incalculable.”
“Today our neighbors lost parents, children, friends, coaches and heroes,” he said. “Orange County is grieving, but we will find solace and purpose in the example they left behind.”

Kobe’s daughter followed in his footsteps

Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gigi, as he called her, shared the same passion for the game and she wanted to play in the WNBA as the heir to his legacy — which he confirmed on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in 2018.
Recently, a video of the two of them went viral as he seemed to break down a game they were attending.

Kobe and Gigi courtside breaking down the game 📋 pic.twitter.com/FxqSjVx6ew

— ESPN (@espn)

The NBA icon leaves behind his daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, who was born in June, and his wife, Vanessa.
Bryant joined the NBA right out of high school, becoming the league’s youngest player in history and spent the next 20 seasons of his professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He held the position of the third-highest scorer in NBA history until he was surpassed by LeBron James Saturday night.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,” Bryant wrote on Twitter afterward.
Thousands mourned Bryant’s death on social media.
Wearing a Lakers shirt, NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said Bryant “inspired a whole generation of young athletes.”
“Kobe my thoughts are with you. Absolutely rest in peace young man. This loss … it’s just hard to comprehend,” he said in a video posted to Twitter.

Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV

— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33)

NBA teams — including the Charlotte Hornets who drafted Bryant in 1996 before trading him to the Lakers — also paid tribute.
“Kobe’s toughness on the basketball court was second to none,” Charlotte Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak said on Twitter. “He played through injuries and sickness, oftentimes defying doctors’ and ownership’s recommendations to not play, in an effort to never miss a game. Kobe was a once-in-a-generation player who will forever be remembered for his competitive nature and his will to win.”