A basketball icon, his 13-year-old daughter, young basketball players who shared a passion for the game and their family members were among those killed when a helicopter crashed into a hillside on a foggy morning northwest of Los Angeles.
The group, which formed a bond through sports, was on its way to a girls basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. The Sikorsky S-76B left John Wayne Airport in Orange County just after 9 a.m., then made a U-turn in the Calabasas area, climbed and then made a steep descent.
Here are the victims killed two years ago in the Jan. 26, 2020 crash.
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The 41-year-old Lakers great and others on the helicopter were flying to the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park for a girls basketball tournament. Bryant often took helicopters to avoid Los Angeles' notorious traffic. He retired in 2016 from the NBA after 20 seasons with the Lakers, finishing his legendary career third on the NBA's all-time scoring list. He won five NBA titles. He worked with younger generations of players at the Mamba Sports Academy and devoted time to charities and other causes off the court.
In the months following his death, basketball fans and others who were inspired by Bryant remembered him with murals and other heartfelt tributes.
Timeline: A Look Back at Kobe Bryant's NBA Career
Kobe Bryant's 13-year-old daughter was a rising youth star, often seen court-side immersed in the action at Lakers games. Better known as Gigi, she was the second-oldest of the Bryants' four children. Her mother, Vanessa Bryant, delivered a heartbreaking tribute to her at a Staples Center memorial for the crash victims
“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” said Vanessa Bryant, who had been with Kobe since 1999. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. We’re still the best team.”
John Altobelli, Wife Keri and Daughter Alyssa
Just as Bryant was passionate about basketball, John Altobelli, 56, had a deep love for the game of baseball. He coached at Orange Coast College. He was with the program for 27 years, leading the Pirates to four state titles en route to more than 700 career wins. In 2019, he was the American Baseball Coaches Association as an ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year. Wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, 14, also were killed in the crash. They were honored at an Angel Stadium memorial.
"The legacy they left will continue to live on through all of us," son JJ Altobelli said at the memorial.
Alyssa friend Sammy Forbath remembered her as a selfless teammate who tried to make others around her better.
"Instead of shooting it and probably making her 12th basket, she would pass it to me so I could make my first," Forbath said at the memorial. "When I missed, she would look at me and say, 'Good try, you'll get the next one.'"
The Altobellis will be remembered Tuesday during an Orange Coast College memorial.
Mauser was a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school and the Mamba Academy team. She is survived by her husband, who founded a popular Orange County band, and three young children. Husband Matt Mauser shared an emotional remembrance of his wife on TODAY following the crash.
"She was extraordinary,'' he said. "She was incredibly witty, funny, funny like nobody you've ever met. She was warm, she was incredibly bright, she was technologically incredibly savvy. She could figure out anything."
Sarah Chester and Daughter Payton Chester
Payton, 13, played basketball with Bryant's daughter Gianna. Family members said she loved playing the game and described Sarah, 45, as the heart of their family. Payton led her middle school basketball team and dreamed of playing in the WNBA.
"Payton was perfect. She saw the best in each person, and it is impossible to describe the impact of her smile, laugh and compassion on the lives of everyone around her," father Chris Chester said. "She loved her Team Mamba girls more than anything in the world and considered them her second family."
Sarah Chester had been married to Chris Chester for more than 20 years. Sarah Chester was also an alumna of Whittier College, where she played volleyball and met Chris. They have two other children, both boys.
Ara Zobayan, an instructor and charter pilot who had flown celebrities like Kylie Jenner and her niece Dream, was at the helm of the helicopter as it traveled to Newbury Park where the girls aboard were to have a basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.