Tony Altobelli remembers receiving the text message a year ago.
The sports information director at Orange Coast College looked at his phone and saw a message from the school’s female basketball coach.
There had been reports of a helicopter crash that morning in the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of Los Angeles. It looked like Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was on board.
“So I texted her and said, ‘Did you hear anything about Kobe?’ Her answer was, ‘Where is your brother?’
“I stopped completely.”
Tony Altobelli’s 56-year-old brother John, a beloved baseball coach at Orange County Community College known as Coach Alto, his wife Keri and 14-year-old daughter Alyssa were all on the helicopter on their way to a girls’ basketball tournament.
It was a heartbreaking and surreal moment. As the school’s sports information director, Tony Altobelli was now charged with passing on the tragic news of their deaths. It included a touching tribute delivered as a letter of thanks to the brother.
Altobellis had become friends of the Bryants through Mamba Academy, where their daughters were basketball teammates.
Altobellis was remembered by loved ones and strangers in a celebration of life at Angel Stadium. Hetty Chang reported on NBC4 News at 11pm on Monday February. 10. 2020.
John Altobelli trained 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 were honored with a moment of silence before the team’s season opener just days after the crash.
During the 12 months that followed, Altobelli said he understood how much his brother meant to society. These memories included those shared at an Angel Stadium memorial for Altobellis.
“The stories that came after John passed away, I got the floor,” Altobelli said. “And I worked with the guy. I could not believe how many people he touched and how many people he influenced. ”
A memorial to the families in Altobelli is planned killed in a crash. It is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Also killed in the crash were Bryant friends Christina Mauser, who helped train the girls’ team, Sarah Chester and daughter Payton, and the helicopter pilot, Ara Zobayan,