Former Cape Cod League coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, were aboard the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday, killing nine passengers including NBA great Kobe Bryant, and his daughter, Gianna.
The group was flying to Thousand Oaks, Calif., for a basketball game, where Gianna and Alyssa were expected to play and Bryant was expected to coach. Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy, and Altobelli would often fly with his daughter to attend the games.
John Altobelli, 56, was the coach of the Orange Coast College (OCC) baseball team. He spent 27 seasons as coach at the community college in Costa Mesa, California. The team won a state championship last year and Altobelli was named national coach of the year. He led the team to more than 700 victories and four state titles.
The Brewster Whitecaps confirmed in a series of Tweets that Altobelli coached on the Cape in the summers of 2012, 2013 and 2014. “John was our head coach in 2012-14, and his son JJ played for us too. JJ and his other daughter Alexis survive them. Our heartfelt condolences to his family.”
We are heartbroken and shocked to learn that our former head coach, John Altobelli along with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa passed away this morning in the helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
— Brewster Whitecaps (@WhitecapsCCBL) January 26, 2020
Jeff McNeil, now with the New York Mets, and Donnie Murphy, who played for six big league teams from 2004-14, posted tributes to Altobelli on social media. McNeil played for Altobelli in 2012 with the Brewster Whitecaps, a summer collegiate team in the Cape Cod League, ESPN reported.
Tough to hear the news of coach Altobelli. One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball. Both the baseball and basketball world lost a great one today https://t.co/efAyf3s7Hj
— Jeff McNeil (@JeffMcNeil805) January 26, 2020
“One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball,” McNeil tweeted. “Both the baseball and basketball world lost a great one today.”