John Altobelli

Reporting by WVUA 23’s Chelsea Barton

Aboard the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California, killing basketball star Kobe Bryant, were eight other people who lost their lives. This included college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife and their 13-year-old daughter.

The Altobellis may have lived across the country but they have a connection right here in Tuscaloosa County. For those who follow high school or college sports in Tuscaloosa County over the years, the name Brett Booth is going to ring some bells.

Booth was a star baseball player at Tuscaloosa County High School and went on to be a standout for the Alabama Crimson Tide, eventually to be drafted by the Houston Astros. The summer before his senior year at Alabama, Booth played in the prestigious Cape Cod League alongside some of the best players in college baseball in the country at that time. The head coach of the the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps was John Altobelli.

“As many years as he coached, as many kids, as many young men as he impacted through the game, I think everybody has a little bit of a void now,” Booth said. “Everybody has a piece of them that was taken away. Whether he coached you out of Orange County, where he coached college ball, or he coached you in the Cape Cod, or anywhere else. You kind of have a little piece of you that kind of left. That says a lot about a person is when they leave, what kind of impact did they leave? I think the legacy he left in the Cape Cod League and the legacy he left out at Orange Coast … speaks for itself.”

Altobelli’s daughter Alyssa and Bryant’s daughter Gianna, who were also killed in the crash, played basketball together. The group was flying to the girls’ game in Thousand Oaks, California, when the crash occurred. Altobelli was in his 24th season as head coach at Orange Coast Community College in California.

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