SoCal baseball coach also died in crash that killed Kobe Bryant

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Firefighters work the scene of a helicopter crash where former NBA star Kobe Bryant died, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas, Calif. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California community college baseball coach, his wife and daughter were among those killed in the crash of the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and his daughter.

The younger brother of Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli confirmed the deaths as relatives, friends and players gathered at the school’s baseball field Sunday afternoon. Flowers and baseball caps were placed on home plate.

John Altobelli’s brother, Tony, is the sports information director at the school. He said his 56-year-old brother died along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who was about 13 and played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter, Gianna.

John Altobelli was entering his 28th season as coach at the community college in Costa Mesa, California. The team won a state championship last year and John Altobelli was named national coach of the year.

The helicopter carrying Bryant crashed northwest of Los Angeles around 10 a.m. Sunday. All nine people aboard were killed.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of 18 people to the scene of the helicopter crash.

NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said at a news conference that investigators will look at the pilot’s history, the maintenance records and information on the helicopter’s owner and operator. Homendy said investigators were not sure how many people the aircraft was configured to carry.

The helicopter that crashed was a twin-engine Sikorsky S-76.

Michael Jordan has reacted to the news about the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash. “I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me,” Jordan said.

Jordan was the most notable of former and current NBA stars to express how shocked they were at the news. Jordan commended Bryant for his fierce competitive streak and called him “one of the greats of the game.”

Bryant’s legacy is often compared to that of Jordan. Bryant won five NBA championships, compared to Jordan’s six.

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