CALABASAS, Calif. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A longtime baseball coach at a college in Costa Mesa, California was killed in the helicopter crash Sunday that also took the lives of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter.
John Altobelli was in his 24th season as the coach at Orange Coast College, but when he was on the other side of the ball he played at the University of Houston. Altobelli was an outfielder and team captain at UH from 1984-85.
The 56-year-old Altobelli died along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter, Gianna. A statement on Twitter said Altobelli and his wife are survived by another daughter, Alexis, and son JJ, who also played for Orange Coast.
Houston mourns the passing of former letterwinner & assistant coach John Altobelli.
— Houston Baseball (@UHCougarBB) January 26, 2020
The Orange Coast College baseball team won a state championship last year and Altobelli was named a national coach of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He led the team to more than 700 victories and four state titles.
Among the players he coached at OCC was Donnie Murphy, who played for five major league teams from 2004-14. Altobelli also was the head coach of the Brewster Whitecaps from 2012-14 in the Cape Cod Baseball League, a summer proving ground for elite college prospects. There he coached more than a dozen players who have reached the big leagues, including All-Star outfielders Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets.
“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.”
Orange Coast College announced the creation of a memorial fund for the Altobelli family.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)