An Orange County community came together to remember Alyssa Altobelli, a 14-year-old girl who died alongside her parents in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant.
Hundreds of people turned out for a candlelight vigil at Mariners Park in Newport, California, Thursday night, Jan. 30, to honor Alyssa’s memory. Those attending the vigil wore green and yellow, the colors of her dream college, the University of Oregon.
Alyssa was with her mother and father, Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife Keri, and six others, including Kobe and his daughter Gianna, in a helicopter when it crashed Sunday, Jan. 26, in foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas. They were on the way from Santa Ana to a club basketball game at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.
Alyssa grew up in the Newport Beach area and was an eighth-grader at Ensign Intermediate School. Alyssa had a passion for sports. She played on the Mamba team with Gianna and Payton Chester, both of whom also died in the crash.
Friends spoke of Alyssa’s work ethic, how she would be the first to offer a high-five to other players who scored and how she wanted to turn her bedroom into a basketball court. They read a poem she had written in grade school as they shared their own memories of her.
Orange Coast College’s Foundation has established the Altobelli Family Memorial Fund. The family, along with the entire campus community, is grateful for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time #ForeverAPiratehttps://t.co/TQFRH4Hl2i pic.twitter.com/2xtWfgUpbc
— Orange Coast College (@orangecoast) January 27, 2020
“If she was smiling, other people were always smiling around her,” Ellie Robinson, a friend. “She was respectful. She knew how to handle herself. She knew what to say. She was nice, she was funny.”
Alyssa’s friends lit candles in the shape of the number 5 – her number – and released lanterns with messages honoring her.
They also released nine sky lanterns, one for each of the victims who died in the crash.