"We don't want to be remembered as the sad family that lost their mom," says Matt Mauser, whose wife Christina died in the helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, along with Kobe and Gianna Bryant

By Eric Todisco and Kara Warner
January 24, 2021 04:15 PM
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Matt Mauser does not want grief to define him and his family.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the father of three talks about dealing with grief nearly one year after the death of his wife Christina Mauser in the same helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, on Jan. 26, 2020.

"I look at grief as like a drunk uncle, you love them, but it's like, you can only take them in so many doses," says Mauser. "Yeah come over sometimes but I don't want you to stay too long. You've got to get out of here."

Mauser, the frontman of Tijuana Dogs and Sinatra Big Band, says he and his family, including children Penny, Thomas, and Ivy, "don't want to be remembered as the sad family that lost their mom."

The Mauser family
| Credit: GoFundMe

"That's a part of our story, but Christina is our story," he adds of his late wife, who was a basketball coach at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy. "She is intertwined in our story. But our story has a lot of different chapters and our story has a lot of different parts to it."

From left: Penny, Matt, Ivy and Thomas Mauser
| Credit: Jonny Marlow

On Tuesday, Mauser will mark the one-year anniversary of his wife's tragic death with Concert for Christina A Musical Tribute and Fundraiser Benefiting The Christina Mauser Foundation, a private fundraising concert benefiting the Christina Mauser Foundation, which he created to provide scholarships and financial aid to female athletes.

The concert will honor all of the victims of the Calabasas helicopter crash: Christina, Kobe, Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, and Ara Zobayan.

In partnership with Rose Bowl Institute, the foundation has created the Christina Mauser Scholarship Award, which will be awarded at the concert to a woman, or women, who exemplify the sportsmanship and leadership qualities that Christina did. The honor will not be awarded until fall 2021 during the RBI's women's empowerment symposium.

"For 15 years I was lucky enough to be married to Christina," Mauser said in a press release for the concert. "She was loyal, determined, funny and passionate. When she committed to doing something she put her heart and soul into completing the job. When Christina was your friend, you knew you had a friend for life — a friend who would be there for you during your darkest days and celebrate your happiest moments. Christina never gave up on you. She was truly a team player."

RELATED VIDEO: Matt Mauser Recalls Fatal Helicopter Crash That Took His Wife Christina and Honoring Her Legacy

In an interview with PEOPLE in August, Mauser said that he was having "better days" as he was "moving through the grief" of Christina's death.

"I was very aware of how good she was at things in the moment, but I appreciate her even more now that it's me doing it," he said at the time. "My wife was my compass. My gift. I had 16 years with this amazing human being who taught me more than anybody else. And now I just have to be able to do that for my kids."

Concert for Christina will stream on MattMauser.com on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.