AUSTIN, Texas — As news broke of the passing of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, the identities of the other passengers of the helicopter that crashed in Southern California became known, as well.
Among them: former University of Houston baseball player John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and his daughter, Alyssa. Alyssa Altobelli played on the same basketball team as Bryant's daughter, Gianna Bryant, according to reports from the Associated Press.
John Altobelli was an outfielder and two-year starter at the University of Houston in the 1980s. The pain of Sunday's tragic helicopter crash has extended to Austin, too, because University of Texas head coach David Pierce played with John Altobelli. Pierce played for UH in 1984 and 1985.
Pierce said he and John Altobelli were college roommates and added that his heart breaks for the Altobelli family and everyone affected by the helicopter crash.
Here is the full statement Pierce released on Monday, mourning the passing of the Altobelli's:
"Yesterday, we lost a dear friend, his wife, and their daughter. Alto was special. We were roommates in college and have had the best relationship two old guys on opposite sides of the country could have. We’ve seen each other’s families grow and lives change for 35 years. He was so proud of his children – JJ, Lexi, and Alyssa. They were his world. I saw Alto earlier this month when he accepted his National Coach of the Year award. His impact in the baseball community was incredible. He changed the lives of countless ballplayers. He, Keri, and Alyssa will be missed by so many and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about: Making teammates, players, coaches, coworkers, friends, and family better. Alto did just that. Susan and I loved and will continue to love Alto and his family. I know many can say the same. My heart breaks for all those affected by yesterday’s tragedy. May they rest in peace."
Aside from John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and Alyssa Altobelli, six other people died in the crash. Family, friends, and community members in connection to the other crash victims have all shared their identities.
As of Monday morning, the NTSB was still investigating the official cause of the crash. A typical preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board could take 10 days, but a final report may take up to a year, according to AP.
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