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Orange County Baseball Legend Among Those Dead In Kobe Bryant Plane Crash

REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

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Nine people were killed Sunday in a plane crash over Calabasas, California, including legendary former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gigi.

The other people who died included long-time Orange County baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa, and his wife Keri. Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach, and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton also perished in the crash, according to CNN. (RELATED: Nuggets, Rockets Hold Moment Of Silence For Kobe Bryant)

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

While Kobe’s tragic death has understandably dominated media headlines over the past 24 hours, it’s also important to remember the impact Altobelli had on so many people. The Orange Coast College head coach was the longest tenured coach in the area, serving as the team’s head coach for 27 years.

“John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” Coast Athletic Director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “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. Our deepest condolences go out to the Altobelli family during this time of tragedy.”

New York Mets star infielder Jeff McNeil credited Altobelli with helping him develop into a successful player, calling him “one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball.”

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to everybody affected by yesterday’s tragedy.