Every Victim In The Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash

Basketball legend, future NBA Hall of Famer, Academy Award-winning film writer, and Los Angeles icon Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41 on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Bryant, a husband and father of four children with his wife Vanessa, lost his life when a helicopter carrying him, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others crashed in Calabasas, Calif. 

Witnesses have claimed that the engine of the helicopter, which Bryant owned, was "sputtering" prior to it crashing in what's believed to be the Santa Monica Mountains, based on photographs apparently depicting the crashed aircraft. Reportedly, the passengers were on their way to Bryant's Thousand Oaks, California-based sports training facility, Mamba Sports Academy, for a basketball practice. According to CNN, the helicopter's pilot was allegedly given clearance to fly in "weather conditions worse than those allowed for standard visual flight rules."

All nine people in the helicopter died in the crash, and the Los Angeles Police Department has been taking every precaution to identify the victims and release their names to the public in a respectful manner, notifying next of kin prior to making public announcements of their deaths.

Kobe Bryant's daughter, Gianna, died in the helicopter crash

The second-eldest daughter in the Bryant family, 13-year-old Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, died in the helicopter crash that also killed her father. Gianna embodied the oft-repeated phrase "like father, like daughter." She was already a talented and passionate basketball player who Kobe called "something else" on the court. Kobe coached Gianna's basketball team, and the famous dad recently went viral through a video in which he was breaking down the Atlanta-Hawks-versus-Brooklyn-Nets game to Gianna.

According to Los Angeles Sparks coach Derek Fisher (via the Los Angeles Times), Gianna shared her father's "demeanor and personality." Clips of Gianna on the basketball court demonstrate the talents that helped her earn the nickname "Little Mamba" — a spin-off of her father's "Black Mamba" moniker.

Kobe revealed that Gianna was "hellbent" on playing basketball at the collegiate level and said she hoped to attend the University of Connecticut and play on the famous women's basketball team coached by Geno Auriemma. The father-daughter pair even visited the UConn women's basketball team in November 2017. Gianna also dreamed of one day playing for the WNBA.

John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and his daughter Alyssa lost their lives in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli also died in the crash, along with his wife, Keri, and his 13-year-old daughter, Alyssa (via ESPN). John was 56 years old at the time of his death and had spent nearly half his life — 27 years — coaching at OCC. Known as "Coach Alto," he led the Pirates baseball team to more than 700 wins and a total of four championship wins at the California state community college level. 

The school's athletic director, Jason Kehler, issued a statement following the news of John Altobelli's passing, "John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball. He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none — he treated them like family." Added OCC President Angelica Suarez, "We have lost a member of our OCC family, and our hearts are broken. Coach Altobelli was a giant on our campus — a beloved teacher, coach, colleague and friend. This is a tremendous loss for our campus community."

John and Keri Altobelli's daughter, Alyssa, trained at the Mamba Sports Academy alongside Gianna Bryant. According to OCC associate head baseball coach Nate Johnson, John became friends with Kobe Bryant through their daughters' love of sports. In a November 2019 Instagram post, Bryant praised Alyssa's "great defense" work on the basketball court during a game in which she and Gianna were playing against each other.

John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli are survived by JJ and Alexis Altobelli (Alyssa's siblings.) 

Christina Mauser passed away in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Another victim of the helicopter crash was Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant coach at the Mamba Sports Academy, per the Los Angeles Times. Mauser previously worked at Harbor Day School in Orange County, Calif. as an assistant basketball coach. 

Mauser's husband Matt, the lead vocalist for the "high-energy, multi-faceted" rock band Tijuana Dogs, posted a message on Facebook the day of her passing: "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."

According to Matt, Kobe Bryant hand-selected Christina to work at the Mamba Sports Academy: "He picked her because she was amazing. I was so proud of her and she was so happy. He asked her to teach the kids defense. They called her 'the mother of defense.' She was beautiful, smart, funny. She was incredibly deep... just an amazing person."

Christina is survived by her husband and three young children.

Sarah and Payton Chester were victims of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Harbor View Elementary School principal Todd Schmidt confirmed that two members of the Newport Beach, Calif. community also died in the helicopter crash: Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton, who attended Harbor View from preschool until fifth grade. (The mother and daughter are pictured in the center and on the right-hand side, respectively.)

In a touching tribute posted to Facebook, which included various pictures of the Chesters, Schmidt wrote: "As folks mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, I want to take a moment to remember two gorgeous human beings who were with him, Sarah and Payton Chester. As a principal, we work with some amazing families...the Chesters were one of those...engaged, supportive, encouraging, and full of mischief and laughter...and they had the best kiddos!"

He added that the Chester family made "such a huge impact at Harbor View" with their "genuine, kind-hearted, and caring" personalities. "While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important," said Schmidt. "Their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken. You were both the embodiment of #hvepride, and the world is just a little less without you both in it. May you both Rest In Peace."

Kobe Bryant's pilot, Ara Zobayan, died in the crash

Another victim of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash was the pilot, Ara Zobayan, who also worked as a flight school instructor. One of Zobayan's students, Brian Kemp, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that his instructor had indeed been piloting Bryant's Sikorsky S-76 chopper on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Zobayan was reportedly the private pilot for Bryant, who has a long history of flying in helicopters. As Kemp told the outlet, "[Bryant] doesn't let anyone else fly him around but Ara."

Kemp remembered Zobayan as "a dedicated, caring instructor" who encouraged his students to remain focused on their goals. Zobayan even helped Kemp as he was going through a divorce, offering him sage advice when he felt like dropping out of flight school: "If you love this, then nothing will stop you."

An investigation into the helicopter crash that claimed these nine lives is currently ongoing. This is a terrible tragedy for the family, friends, and loved ones of Kobe and Gianna Bryant; John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser; Sarah and Payton Chester; and Ara Zobayan.