A baseball coach and his wife and daughter all killed in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash were honored last night by their surviving family at a memorial service at Angel Stadium.
John Altobelli, 56, died with his wife Keri, 46, and their 14-year-old child Alyssa, on January 26 in Los Angeles, when the sports world mourned the loss of one of its biggest stars.
Altobelli, the award-winning coach at Orange Coast College, was also known in California and several thousand people flocked to the arena in Anaheim to pay tribute to the trio.
Many burst into tears when JJ Altobelli, 29, read an emotional tribute while being supported on stage by his sister Lexi, 16, against the backdrop of the smiling faces of their deceased relatives.
Altobelli was worshiped for leading his team to four state titles and helping his young players grow and develop on and off the pitch.
A baseball coach and his wife and daughter all killed in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash were honored last night at a memorial at Angel Stadium
John Altobelli, 56, (second left) died with his wife Keri, 46, (middle) and their 14-year-old child Alyssa (right), on January 26. They are survived by a 29-year-old son JJ (second right) and a 16-year-old daughter Lexi (left)
Many burst into tears while their smiling faces were projected on screens and family friends read tributes (photo)
Dozens of them were in the stadium, along with members of current local university teams who wore their jerseys.
Old friend Josh Belovsky said to the crowd: “We have no idea how many teachers, police officers, firefighters, fathers and spouses he helped develop.
“Those are the victories he cherished the most.”
The coach known as ‘Alto’ won more than 700 games during his 27-year coaching of the team and was named coach of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association last year.
He also managed the Brewster Whitecaps for three seasons in the Cape Cod Summer League.
Among the players he coached were New York Yankees-batter Aaron Judge and New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil.
The Altobellis were among the nine people killed when a helicopter carrying them to a youth basketball tournament crashed in foggy weather outside of Los Angeles.
The city of Anaheim Fire Department displays the American flag for the commemoration at the Angel Stadium
Mourners shine their cell phone lights at the end of the commemoration for coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa
Several thousand people flocked to the arena in Anaheim to show their respect to the trio
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 to the former Lakers superstar, his daughter and other victims is scheduled for February 24 at Staples Center.
On Monday the ceremony began with reading the nine names of the victims.
From a stage covered with flower bouquets, photos and sports jerseys, family and friends share memories and supporting messages for the son JJ van Altobelli, an explorer with the Boston Red Sox and Lexi.
Alyssa Altobelli attended the Ensign Intermediate School in Newport Beach, who stopped her sweater and hoped to go to the University of Oregon one day.
Recalling her deceased teammate, Emily Eadie said she loved basketball and would find ways to go to the gym when the workouts were canceled.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in the helicopter crash in LA on January 26
JJ Altobelli, the son of John, embraces in the Angels stadium while the emotional monument saw tribute to the dead
JJ Altobelli with his fiancée Carly Konigsfeld and his sister Lexi Altobelli speaks at the service
The grieving friend said: ‘If someone was in a bad mood in practice, she would smile and laugh to brighten the day.
“Without her our team will never be the same again.”
A video was shown of Alyssa walking past the court and bouncing her ponytail. She also loved animals and took turtles home from science class when she was afraid they would be mistreated, said her friend Sammy Forbath.
Keri Altobelli was remembered as loyal, strong and fully committed to her husband and family.
Allison Eadie described how the two spent so much time bleaching their daughters playing basketball that they were joking about having their names engraved on plaques.
She said: ‘It was clear that she would do absolutely everything for those she loved. When she was behind you, you didn’t need anyone else. “
Pastor Erik Rees remembered that he had met the coach eight years ago. At the time, Rees mourned the loss of his 12-year-old daughter to cancer, and Altobelli, who devoted a game to her, met him at third base and gave him a hug, promised to support him and his family.
“That’s one of the many things I’m going to miss is an” Alto “hug,” Rees said. “Their time on earth was far too short.”