Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a tragic helicopter crash outside Los Angeles on Sunday morning. Sadly, all nine passengers, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, perished in the accident.
The group was on their way to the Mamba Sports Academy, where Kobe Bryant was to serve as a coach for the young campers. Others on the flight included John Altobelli, as well as his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa. Altobelli was a long-time coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, and Alyssa played on Gianna's team.
Altobelli, who had just racked up his 700th career victory, also coached prominent MLB stars in the Cape Cod League, including New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge and New York Mets All-Star Jeff McNeil.
This isn’t real…
— Aaron Judge (@TheJudge44) January 26, 2020
Sarah and Payton Chester were also among those who died along with Kobe Bryant in Sunday morning's helicopter crash. According to The New York Times, the mother-daughter duo lived in Orange County, and they're remembered for their jovial natures. Like Alyssa, Payton played alongside Gianna.
Riley Chester later noted that he had lost “the most amazing Mother and sister.”
“Rest In Peace to the most amazing Mother and sister,” Riley wrote, via Today. “I love you Pay Pay and Mom RIP.”
Christina Mauser was also killed in the crash. Mauser shared a close bond with Gianna, serving as her coach at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar. The two actually won a school championship in the fall of 2017.
“She was incredibly witty — funny like nobody you’ve ever met,” Mr. Mauser, who used to teach at the school and is a singer in a band, said on the “Today” show early on Monday.
Mauser's husband, Matt, noted that Kobe Bryant hired his wife to serve as an assistant coach at his basketball camp. Kobe reportedly called Christina “The Mother of Defense,” as she was great at teaching zone schematics.
“I’m scared, I think, more than anything… She was warm. She was incredibly bright.” Matt Mauser, husband of Christina Mauser, who is one of the victims in LA-area helicopter crash, remembers his wife and their friend Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/qhohGVzeGl
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 27, 2020
The final fatality of Sunday's crash was the pilot, who has been identified as Ara Zobayan. Mr. Zobayan was a commercial helicopter pilot and certified flight instructor, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He had 20 years of flying experience in the area.
Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest athletes the world has ever known, but the other passengers who died should be recognized as well. Join us in sending condolences to the families involved in this tragic accident.