remembering john altobelli

Houston family and friends remember UH baseball alum killed in California crash

Houston family remembers UH baseball alum killed in California crash

John Altobelli University of Houston Kobe Bryant
John Altobelli was a University of Houston baseball player and assistant coach.  Photo courtesy of ABC13/Orange Coast College

A University of Houston alum was with basketball legend Kobe Bryant and seven others when their helicopter crashed near Los Angeles and killed all nine people on board, multiple sources told ABC News and ESPN.

Orange Coast College confirmed long-time head baseball coach John Altobelli was one of the victims in the deadly helicopter crash.

Sources told ESPN the retired NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the victims in the Sunday, January 26 morning crash. The Los Angeles Sheriff said nine people were on board, including the pilot, but would not release the identities of the victims.

The University of Houston, where Altobelli graduated from and was once assistant coach, released a statement confirming that Altobelli's wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, were also among the victims.

ABC13 spoke with John's younger brother, Tony, on the evening of January 26.

"I think we're all just kind of hurting right now. We're all kind of shell shocked," Tony said. "I know it hasn't hit me 100 percent yet, that's why I think I can still talk to you right now."

Local coach, Russell Stockton, played under Altobelli and was his friend. Stockton remembers him as a successful coach, winning four titles for Orange Coast College.

In 2015, four of his players were on HBU's championship team.

Authorities say Bryant, Altobelli, their two daughters, Altobelli's wife and four others were headed to Fresno, California, for their daughters' basketball game. Bryant was the team's coach.

Altobelli graduated from UH with his bachelor's degree in 1987. The university says he lettered for the Cougars from 1984-85.

The University of Houston released the following statement:

The Houston Athletics family is saddened today by the passing of John Altobelli. John served as a team captain for our baseball program during his time as a student-athlete at UH and worked tirelessly as a coach at Orange Coast College for the last 28 years, developing many players that had the opportunity to play for our university. Our thoughts and prayers will be with John's family in the days ahead.

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