Orange Coast College officially renames park after coach John Altobelli who died in helicopter crash

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange Coast College held an emotional tribute on Saturday for longtime coach John Altobelli.

"He meant a lot to me. I wouldn't be here without him, and he showed me what it's like to be a coach," OCC head baseball coach Nate Johnson said.

The longtime baseball coach at OCC in Costa Mesa, along with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, was killed in the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and three others.

OCC renamed the baseball park John Altobelli Park to honor the late coach, but COVID postponed the renaming ceremony because fans wanted to join in the tribute.

"It's definitely a good day," Johnson said. "To be able to make this happen, there's been a lot of people that had been working behind the scenes for two years to get this, and I'm happy it's finally happening for Alto."

Known as Alto to his family and friends, the 56-year-old was the head baseball coach at OCC for 27 years, winning hundreds of games and numerous titles.

Both teams wore the number 14 in a show of support for Altobelli.

"Here at OCC, this is going to be the last time that anyone is going to wear the number 14," Johnson said.

His brother, Tony Altobelli, threw out the first pitch to his father as a final farewell on the field that meant so much to Altobelli.

"The biggest thing I learned from my brother's passing was legacy, the ability to leave a mark wherever you are in life, and, needless to say, John did that," Tony said.

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Tony Altobelli reflects on coping with the loss of three family members in the Calabasas helicopter crash.

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