An NBA Legend, Loving Parents, 3 Teens & a Pilot: All 9 Victims of the Calabasas Helicopter Crash
The Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, claimed the life of Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. They are survived by wife and mother of four Vanessa, 37, as well as daughters and siblings Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school in the 1996 draft, becoming the first guard ever drafted directly out school. During his two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers, he went on to become an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team and 12-time All-Defensive team member.
In 2008, he was named NBA’s Most Valuable Player. After losing the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant helped lead the Lakers to championships in both 2009 and 2010, earning him the Finals MVP award.
Bryant retired from the NBA after his 2015-2016 season, capping off his final game with 60 points. Then, he made a successful transition as an entrepreneur through his companies, even becoming the first NBA star to win an Oscar.
In addition, he spoke of the joys of coaching his daughter Gianna and the Mamba Academy team she played on with her middle school friends.
The 13-year-old and her father were headed to a travel basketball game, ESPN reported, adding that the other passengers in the aircraft were her teammates and their parents.
Weeks before their deaths, Bryant proudly spoke about how he had recently started watching NBA games again because of his daughter. "We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes," the five-time NBA champion told former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the Showtime Basketball podcast All the Smoke. "It wasn't me sitting there, you know, as an athlete or a player or something like that, and you know it’s like about me, and I don't like that. It was her, she was having such a good time."
And Gianna wished to continue her father's legacy, according to Bryant. "The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she’ll be standing next to me, and they’ll be like, 'You gotta have a boy, you and [wife Vanessa] gotta have a boy, somebody else to carry on the tradition, the legacy,' " he said in a 2018 Jimmy Kimmel Live interview. "She's like, 'Oh, I got this. You don’t need a boy for that. I got this.' I'm like, 'That's right, yes you do. You got this.' "
Sarah and her daughter Payton Chester, of Orange County, were also on board the aircraft.
Sarah is survived by her husband Chris and her two sons, Hayden and Riley, who are in 10th grade.
St. Margaret's Episcopal School confirmed the news in a memo obtained by PEOPLE, in which the school said Payton was enrolled in eighth grade and Sarah served on its board of trustees.
"This is an unimaginable loss for the Chester family and the entire St. Margaret's community," read the memo. "We are a community in mourning. Our greatest strength is when our St. Margaret's community pulls together with arms around one another, and this is one of those times."
Payton was one of Gianna Bryant's teammates on the Mamba Sports Academy girls basketball team.
Todd Schmidt, who identified himself as Payton's elementary school principal, wrote on Facebook that Payton and her mom Sarah were "two gorgeous human beings."
Schmidt told PEOPLE, "Payton was one of those kids that everyone was drawn to because she was so genuinely kind," also adding, "She went out of her way to make sure people felt comfortable – she would seek out that kiddo who was alone and include them."
Mauser, who was on board the helicopter when it crashed, was a girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Orange County and a coach for the Mamba Academy.
Her husband Matt confirmed the tragic news, writing on Facebook, "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."
The mayor of Costa Mesa, Katrina Foley, also confirmed the news, tweeting, "I just learned that our amazing Matt Mauser of TiajuanaDogs lost his wife Christina in the crash. She coached the girls team. This devastating tragedy gets worse by the hour. So much pain for so many local families. Our hearts are broken & grieving for the families impacted."
Altobelli, who was the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, was also on board the aircraft alongside wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, the school confirmed in a statement on their website.
"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli. He was a coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend at OCC for 27 years," the school — which is located in Costa Mesa — wrote. "Orange Coast College asks the media and the public to respect the privacy of John’s family and friends during this difficult time."
John's brother, Tony Altobelli, told PEOPLE, "I'm numb right now, I'm numb, I'm broken, I'm going to miss him terribly. He was my brother, he was my idol growing up, also my idol as an adult. You want to live my brother did, he was straight and narrow, he worked hard and he earned the respect of everybody who ever knew him and he left a legacy that will go way beyond his time spent in Orange Coast. I don't know how you can not want to live a life like that."
Keri and her husband John were also parents to daughter Alexis Altobelli and son J.J. Altobelli, who works as a scout for the Red Sox.
A GoFundMe page for the Altobelli family was created by the Red Sox. "Most devastating to our Red Sox family, John, Keri, and Alyssa were the father, stepmother and younger sister of one of our scouts, J.J. Altobelli," a statement read.
Alyssa was a teammate of Gianna Bryant's.
Their coach Kobe Bryant raved about Alyssa's basketball talent in November, writing on Instagram, "This is GREAT defense by our mamba pg Alyssa Altobelli."
Zobayan of Huntington Beach, California, was piloting the aircraft, PEOPLE confirmed.
"He was as skilled and as talented as a pilot as you could get. With him, it was always safety first and above and beyond that, he was doing what he loved," said Adam Alexander, who called Zobayan a former instructor.
A source told PEOPLE that Zobayan was "extremely experienced" as a pilot. "He had a lot of respect for flying and would never take risks. He knew the valley very well. The area where they crashed was not a new area for him. He was very familiar with that area," the source said. "It's just such a shock. There are no words to express how much Ara will be missed and how sad everyone is about the passengers that died. It's just such a painful tragedy. So many families affected and so much pain."