Memorial held for Altobelli family killed in Kobe crash
ANAHEIM — The smiling faces of baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa shone in photos and videos cast on screens at Angel Stadium of them hitting the baseball field, basketball court and the beach.
But as friends and family remembered the couple and their teenage daughter killed in last month’s helicopter crash that also claimed the life of basketball star Kobe Bryant, many couldn’t help but break into tears.
Several thousand people poured into the stadium in Anaheim, California, Monday for a public memorial honoring the award-winning coach of Orange Coast College baseball, who was known for leading his team to four state titles and helping his young players grow and develop on and off the field. Scores of them were in the stadium, along with members of current local college teams, wearing their jerseys.
“We have no clue how many teachers, police officers, firefighters, dads and husbands that he helped develop along the way,” his longtime friend Josh Belovsky told the crowd.
“Those are the wins that he cherished the most.”
The 56-year-old coach known as “Alto” won more than 700 games during his 27 years coaching the team and was named coach of the year last year by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Altobelli 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.
The Altobellis were among the nine people killed Jan. 26 when a helicopter carrying them to a youth basketball tournament crashed in foggy weather outside Los Angeles.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, Christina Mauser — who helped Bryant coach the teenage girls’ basketball team — and helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan were also killed. A public memorial for the former Lakers superstar, his daughter and other victims is scheduled for Feb. 24 at Staples Center.
On Monday, the memorial began with the reading of the nine names of the victims. From a podium covered with flower bouquets, photos and sports jerseys, family and friends shared memories and messages of support for Altobelli’s son J.J., a scout with the Boston Red Sox, and a 16-yearold daughter, Lexi.
Alyssa Altobelli, 14, attended Ensign Intermediate School in Newport Beach, which retired her jersey, and hoped to someday attend the University of Oregon.
REMEMBERING — J.J. Altobelli, left, with his fiancee Carly Konigsfeld, right, and his sister Lexi Altobelli, speaks at a memorial service honoring parents John and Keri and sister Alyssa who were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.