COSTA MESA, CA (KCBS/KCAL) — Orange Coast College’s baseball team will take to the field Tuesday for their first game since head coach John Altobelli was killed in the helicopter crash that also took the lives of eight others, including basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter.
Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri, and their daughter 13-year-old Alyssa, was killed in the crash Sunday morning. A memorial was placed on home plate in honor of “Coach Alto,” who led the team to several state titles.
“This is the house that John built,” his father, Jim Altobelli said. “He helped a lot of kids. Good guy. We’ll all miss him.”
Altobelli was remembered as a father figure, both by the players who has led to championship titles in recent years and former players who came to pay their respects.
“He never left you feeling like you weren’t cared for,” one player said.
“He treated everyone like they were just a starter and they’re playing every day,” another player said. “You know, it’s just tough, because I’m going to miss having that presence around.”
The team draped a red banner in the outfield with a giant “14” for Altobelli’s number. They say they will play Tuesday’s game in his honor.
The Altobelli’s leave behind a younger daughter, Alexis, and an older son, JJ.
“Lexi just lost her family. She does have a great big brother, so we’re counting on all of us helping the two of them get through all this,” Altobelli’s sister, Dee Coleman said.
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