BEVO BEAT Baseball

‘Alto was special’: Texas’ David Pierce eulogizes a former teammate following accident that also killed Kobe Bryant

Posted January 27th, 2020


On Monday, Texas baseball coach David Pierce called John Altobelli, his former teammate at the University of Houston, a dear friend and added that Altobelli’s “impact in the baseball community was incredible.”

Altobelli, 56, was among the nine passengers who died in a helicopter accident in California on Sunday morning. The accident claimed the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, were also killed.

Altobelli started in the outfield alongside Pierce on Houston’s 1984 team. They were also teammates during the 1985 season.


On Monday morning, Texas released a statement from Pierce. UT’s fourth-year coach also tweeted out his condolences.

Yesterday, we lost a dear friend, his wife, and their daughter. Alto was special. We were roommates in college and have had the best relationship two old guys on opposite sides of the country could have. We’ve seen each other’s families grow and lives change for 35 years. He was so proud of his children—JJ, Lexi, and Alyssa. They were his world.

I saw Alto earlier this month when he accepted his National Coach of the Year award. His impact in the baseball community was incredible. He changed the lives of countless ballplayers. He, Keri, and Alyssa will be missed by so many and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about: Making teammates, players, coaches, coworkers, friends, and family better. Alto did just that.

Susan and I loved and will continue to love Alto and his family. I know many can say the same. My heart breaks for all those affected by yesterday’s tragedy. May they rest in peace.”

For the past 27 seasons, Altobelli has served as the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College. One of his former athletes, infielder Murphy Stehly, was a member of Texas’ 2019 recruiting class.

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