A total of nine people were killed when Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter went down in foggy conditions on Sunday, investigators said. The helicopter was on its way to a girls’ basketball game when it crashed.
So far, here’s what we know about the people who died with Bryant in the crash.
Gianna Bryant, 13, was the second-oldest of her father’s four children, all of them girls. She was commonly known as Gigi and was a rising star in girls’ basketball.
Bryant took an active role in coaching Gianna at his Mamba Sports Academy, and he once touted her as a basketball star in the making.
He told Jimmy Kimmel in an 2018 interview that he didn’t need a son to carry on his legacy because he had Gianna.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me,” Bryant told Kimmel. “And they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and (Vanessa) gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.’
“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,'” Bryant recalled. “I’m like, ‘That’s right. Yes, you do. You got this.'”
Alyssa, Kerri and John Altobelli
Alyssa Altobelli, 13, and her parents, Kerri and John Altobelli, were also killed in the crash.
John Altobelli, 56, was the longtime head coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team in Southern California.
The college described him as a “coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend” who had worked there for 27 years.
“He truly personified what it meant to be a baseball coach,” the school’s athletic director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none — he treated them like family.”
Alyssa played on Gianna’s team at Mamba, CBS News reports. Kobe Bryant praised Alyssa’s defensive game in an Instagram video last November.
Christine Mauser, 38, was a girls’ basketball coach at a private school and a wife and mother, according to Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley.
I just learned that our amazing Matt Mauser of TiajuanaDogs lost his wife Christina in the crash. She coached the girls team. This devastating tragedy gets worse by the hour. So much pain for so many local families. Our hearts are broken & grieving for the families impacted.
— Mayor Katrina Foley (@KatrinaFoley) January 27, 2020
Christina Mauser’s husband, Matt, shared his memories of her in an emotional interview with the Today show.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “I got three small kids and am trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom.”
He explained that Bryant had hand-picked his wife to be an assistant coach for Gianna’s Mamba Academy basketball team.
“He picked her because she was amazing,” Mauser said. “I was so proud of her and she was so happy.”
Christina Mauser is survived by children aged 11, nine and three.
“She was beautiful, smart, funny,” Matt Mauser said.
My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.
Sarah and Payton Chester
Sarah Chester and her middle school-aged daughter, Payton, were on the helicopter due to a break in their normal routine, Payton’s grandmother Catherine George told NBC News.
“They had to get on the helicopter as a convenience today,” George said. “They usually drove by car.”
Todd Schmidt, who was the principal at Payton’s former elementary school, described the Chester family as “engaged, supportive, encouraging and full of mischief and laughter.”
“This family made such a huge impact,” Schmidt wrote on Facebook. “While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important … Their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken.”
Friends and colleagues have identified the pilot as Ara Zobayan, the New York Times reports.
Zobayan was a longtime pilot and a dedicated flight instructor, student Darren Kemp told the Los Angeles Times. He added that Zobayan was Bryant’s private pilot whom he trusted.
“He doesn’t let anyone else fly him around but Ara,” Kemp told the L.A. Times.
Zobayan received his commercial pilot certificate in 2007, CBS reports.
—With files from The Associated Press
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