OCC coach John Altobelli passes away in the helicopter crash

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: People mourn for former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, near Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Nine people have been confirmed dead in the crash, among them Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: People mourn for former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, near Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Nine people have been confirmed dead in the crash, among them Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) /
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Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli passed away on Sunday in the helicopter crash that also took the life of eight other passengers, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Yesterday was a difficult day for the entire world of sports.  The news of Kobe Bryant passing away, alongside his daughter and Orange Coast College (OCC)  baseball coach John Altobelli in a helicopter crash was absolutely devastating.

Altobelli was a successful coach and the longest-tenured coach in OCC history and had a profound impact on Major League Baseball players Jeff McNeil and Aaron Judge.  In fact, McNeil credits Altobelli with him making and still playing professional baseball.

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Altobelli was on the helicopter with his wife Kerri, daughter Alyssa, Kobe Bryant and Bryant’s daughter Gianna.  They were on their way to the girls’ traveling basketball game when the helicopter went down and killed everyone on board.

Not only did Altobelli enjoy great success at OCC, where he picked up his 700th career victory this past season, he also coached in the Cape Cod League.  This gave him the chance to help mentor future MLB players Judge and McNeil.

McNeil commented on how Altobelli took a chance on him when it seemed like no one else was going to give him a shot.  He credits this second chance as the reason he was able to get drafted and is now playing for the New York Mets.

He enjoyed a breakout year in 2019 in his first full MLB season with a slash line of .318/.384/.531 with 23 homers and 75 RBI’s.  He was rewarded with an All-Star nod because of his great performance.

Altobelli is survived by his son J.J., who is a scout for the Boston Red Sox, and his daughter Alexis.  One thing for certain after the tragedy of yesterday is that life is precious and oftentimes cut way too short.  It is a reminder of how lucky we are to be able to go home to our families every night and be with our loved ones.

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I urge everyone to go home today and hold your loved ones close and always let them know how much you love them.  You never know if that is the last chance you’ll get to tell express those feelings.