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Royals' Players Reflect on the Impact Kobe Bryant and John Altobelli Had on Their Lives

January 28, 2020 - Appalachian League (ApL) - Burlington Royals News Release

The news of the tragedy of Kobe Bryant, John Altobelli, and the seven others passing shocked the world, and these players within the Royals organization. Here is what they had to say on the impact Kobe Bryant, and/or John Altobelli had on their lives.

Kris Bubic- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

Kris on Kobe Bryant:

"There's a lot to say about Kobe. It's been difficult watching TV or scrolling through social media the last few days without coming across a story or moment about Kobe that grabs your heart. I remember watching his highlights and motivational videos on YouTube during high school when I decided to fully commit to my craft. This was a constant reminder telling me that I had made a choice for myself and my future. A reminder that I had to make sacrifices and prioritize my life in order to be great. What I'll remember most about Kobe is simply his willingness to do whatever it took to achieve greatness. No excuses. He just put his head down and went to work until he had nothing more to give on the court. And then he had the same mindset with his family. He was a great father to his kids and it's heartbreaking to know that his daughter is no longer with us either. The sports world will never be the same. RIP Mamba and Gigi."

Kris on Coach Altobelli:

"I didn't know John Altobelli personally, but I was familiar with the name. I had teammates and coaches that were close to him and spoke very highly about him as both a baseball coach and a family man. And because of this, I had a lot of respect for him. The baseball community is such a small world so it feels like we have a lost family member. RIP John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli."

"Condolences to the families of the remaining 4 victims as well."

Jordan Zach George- Infielder in the Royals Organization

"The unexpected passing of Kobe is incredibly heart aching. No one showed more heart on and off the court like Kobe. He impacted my life with his passion for his family and his craft. Prayers going out to the Bryant family."

Conner Greene- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

Kobe embodied hard work and grit he constantly spoke about mindset and determination Growing up you couldn't take a three-point shot without screaming Kobe especially in LA just like the Jeter throw from shortstop Everybody can learn something from the lessons he would preach and the mindset he was teaching he had so much more knowledge to pass on very sad such a great mind and athletes time had to end. I personally strive and practice having that mindset it's not easy and he was a pro beyond pro.

William Hancock- Catcher in the Royals Organization

"I know you just asked for a few sentences but here are my thoughts about it:

Growing up, I watched Kobe closely and heard all about his incredible work ethic and focus on maximizing the talent he was born with. What I think is most notable about the impact Kobe made on the world is how any athlete in any sport across the world was impacted by his mentality, not just basketball players. I've heard multiple interviews where he said he wanted to be remembered for never taking a day off and doing everything he could to better those around him. The extra work Kobe did when nobody was watching is what led him to be a legendary icon. His mamba mentality inspired me to always put in extra work that others weren't doing. Since learning of Kobe's passing, I've read so many things about how good of a father he was. I hope that I'm lucky enough to become a great father like that someday as well.

William on Coach Altobelli:

I'm not as familiar with John Altobelli and his legacy, but from everything I've heard and read through social media, he impacted countless lives of players he coached and their families. The common theme from those who passed in the crash is that they did the most with the days they were blessed with on Earth and I'll strive to do the same for the remainder of my life."

Nick Heath- Outfielder in the Royals Organization

"The thing about Kobe is that the way he worked and how he impacted people across the world left an everlasting impression. You see all the time how people say he was big on just simply just being better than the next person and that showed in his leadership on the floor and how he wanted to impact somebody off the floor. The world stops for a person like that, I could name 5 people in my lifetime who could stop everything if something were to happen to them."

Gage Hughes - Infielder in the Royals Organization

"There is a lot I can say about Kobe and how he has inspired me but I would have to say the two main things are his work ethic and how he treated others around him. I have tried to model my drive and mental aspects the way he did because he did whatever it took to be the best he could be. Lastly but most importantly his character and the things he did for others around him. I strive to treat others the way he did."

Jakob Junis- Reliever for the Kansas City Royals

"Kobe Bryant was the sole reason I wore number 24 my entire high school basketball career. I wore it in the minor leagues whenever I could get my hands on #24. His basketball shoes are the only ones I wear to this day. He was the Michael Jordan of my generation. His death was a complete shock and devastating blow to me personally and as you can see most sports fans around the entire world."

Jake Kalish- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

"I played for alto in Brewster in 2012. I showed up on a temp contract to fill in until guys got done with the College World Series. Alto came to me after a couple and asked if I wanted to stay for the whole summer. He believed in me and ultimately allowed me to believe in myself. That's the kind of coach and person he was."

Kyle Kasser- Infielder in the Royals Organization

On Kobe Bryant:

"Kobe was one of my heroes growing up. As a SoCal kid, I grew up as a Lakers fan. When I started playing basketball, of course, my favorite player to watch was Kobe. He would always have the ball in key moments and win or lose, the game was in his hands. I always heard stories of his work ethic and dedication to the game, which I didn't understand at a young age, but the older I got, the more I came to admire it. What I didn't know was how the legendary Kobe was because it was what I was used to. Looking back on the past couple of years with the Lakers minus Kobe, I started to realize that I took the greatness that was in front of me for granted. His leadership, fierce competitiveness, dedication, and commitment to excellence was something I wanted to mirror in my game. Although I never met Kobe, it was crazy how overwhelming his passing was but that shows how great his impact was. I can only dream to have the tiniest sliver of the impact that he had on the world. Prayers to his family, friends, and loved one in this tough time.

On Coach Altobelli:

"I didn't know Coach Alto very well other than a few brief conversations we had when he was trying to recruit me to go to OCC. However, his son JJ played at Oregon for four years and was the starting SS. After a stint in pro ball, he came back to Oregon and was a coach during my freshman year. He was very knowledgeable about the game and was kind and fun to be around. I'm sure much of that came from his father who I've heard from so many OCC alumni was just an incredible man, father, and coach. Praying for JJ and his sister and all the others that were greatly impacted by the horrific accident."

"Also praying for friends and loved ones of the Mauser, Chester, and Zobayan family. May they all rest in peace."

Nicky Lopez- Infielder for the Kansas City Royals

"I didn't have the privilege of knowing John Altobelli and obviously I have never met Kobe Bryant. The only thing I can really say is that my heart is broken for the families and everyone involved in the accident. I grew up watching Kobe and would always watch videos of him on YouTube of him talking about bringing great and that "mamba mentality". Other than that I didn't have the privilege of knowing such great people and all I can do is send my thoughts and prayers their families way."

Noah Murdock- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

"My message about Kobe is that as a young kid, you always try to be the best at different things. For pitching, I look up to Verlander, for competitiveness, I try to be like Scherzer, but when it comes to work ethic, it's hard not to look up to a guy like Kobe Bryant. He was above and beyond anybody in sports when it comes to putting in the work when no one is watching or setting a good example for other players. If I can be half the leader or have half the work ethic that Kobe Bryant had, I know I will be successful. That goes for anyone."

Rudy Martin Jr- Outfielder in the Royals Organization

"This was devastating to me because what Kobe Bryant meant to my generation is the same as what Michael Jordan means to the generation before me. Growing up watching Kobe's grind, work ethic, desire to be better, and try again concept taught me a lot of things for my own career!"

Nick Pratto- First Basemen in the Royals Organization

Nick on Coach Altobelli:

"I only got to meet him a handful of times since about seventh grade but he always treated me with great respect. Always went out of his way to give recognition where it was due. Myself and the rest of the professionals in the area always appreciated him opening his field to us. Men like him are why our game is so great. He was truly a legend in our community. Juco Baseball is huge in Orange County and he was the best of the best."

Nick on Kobe Bryant:

"Growing up in southern California, Kobe was the face of sports and the epitome of a competitor. Looking back on all of the memories of my dad and I watching his greatness every single time he took the court no matter what was going on physically. A once in a lifetime player and a great ambassador for athletes all around the world. He was my hero and his legacy will not soon be forgotten by an entire generation of athletes."

Josh Mitchell- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

"Kobe was always someone that I looked up to on and off of the court. He was such a motivated and fierce competitor and wanted nothing less than to be the greatest. His love and passion for the game is something that really rubbed off on me. He wasn't there to make friends he was there to win, and that's what I loved the most"

Ryan McBroom- Outfielder for the Kansas City Royals

"Kobe was the competitor everyone inspires to be. He impacted athletes of every sport around the world and will be greatly missed. His mentality will live on forever"

Brandon Marklund-Pitcher In the Royals Organization

"Despite the tragic circumstances, I think it is quite special to see the world come a little bit closer together to remember the life of Kobe, his daughter and the other members aboard the helicopter who passed away. His "mamba mentality" was not only a testimony to his dedication to his work, but as well the dedication he gave to his family, and friends.

Personally, this serves as a reminder that while our time on earth is finite, our legacies and the impact we have on others can be everlasting. Regardless of the number of people we can affect is in the millions or a few close ones, the way we live our lives can greatly affect those around us. Let us share the unspoken words we have yet to share with our loved ones and forgive those we have yet to forgive. The world lost a legend, but Kobe, his legacy, and how he treated others will always be remembered."

John Rave-Outfielder in the Royals Organization

"Kobe was a man who was driven to succeed in everything he did. He had a huge heart and hated to lose. You could just see and feel his passion for his sport by watching how he played. I loved and admired that in him. But he was also a man who wanted so much for his family. My heart goes out to all the families affected by this tragic day."

Reggie Sanders- Special Assistant Baseball Operations of the Kansas City Royals

"Kobe Bryant comes through once again showing us all what fatherhood should look like. Kobe invited us on his basketball journey, we could feel the history, all of it and in every shade - the joy and the pain, the darkness and the light, that only a legend can do."

Alex Smith- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

"Some things that stood out to me from Kobe Bryant that impacted my life are his comments on his first year in playoffs when he talked about air balling 5 times.. instead of the "woe is me" mindset Kobe simply said, "get over yourself.." he continues telling his story by what he did that next offseason to find a way to never let that happen again! That sums up the type of competitor he was. Not letting one moment or game define the start of his career. Kobe Bryant from a young age knew his purpose for the game of basketball & lived it out to impact the lives of others! For me, as a young athlete who played basketball before the upcoming spring season in high school, I admired his Mamba Mentality! Also, I still have my Kobe's shoes from when I played basketball!"

Tyler Tolbert- Outfielder in the Royals Organization

"Kobe was inspirational to my life. I admired his work ethic, passion, and drive to be the best. Still to this day, I would watch YouTube videos of him speaking and telling stories about his mindset and dominating opponents. Kobe was like our Superman. There wasn't anything he couldn't do. Kobe was more than just a basketball player. He was a great leader and mentor. He was a great father. He was a warrior that played through anything. Kobe was Kobe. The epitome of a champion."

Chase Vallot- Catcher in the Royals Organization

"I have to admit I didn't watch basketball much growing up but when the Lakers were on I stopped what I was doing to watch Kobe. What he was able to do with the basketball was truly unique. But the thing that made me like Kobe was the Mamba Mentality. As a young athlete growing up I wanted to have that type of mentality no matter what I was doing."

Bobby Witt Jr.- Infielder in the Royals Organization

"To see how much of an impactful person Kobe was is truly amazing. He always had the attitude to be the greatest, while inspiring others to be the greatest as well. It's amazing how 1 person has changed so many people's lives and will always be their hero! I was a Celtic fan growing up. I would always like to watch basketball and see Kobe play them in the finals. He would be the guy you would never want your team to go up against because he had the competitor attitude that he is never going to lose! It's terrible to see the loss of Kobe and all the victims that were part of it. I am praying for their families and all the people who made an impact on them."

Anthony Veneziano- Pitcher In the Royals Organization

"Growing up basketball was my first love. I played in all different travel and AAU programs around the northeast. Kobe Bryant and Lebron James were the 2 athletes I admired the most. Obviously for their on the court skills but most importantly their work ethic and ability to bring people together for one common goal, success. Kobe taught me success for anything in life doesn't come from natural talent but the work ethic and love for the game. I brought those key components to the game of baseball and Kobe was a driving force in me becoming successful in baseball. His impact on my life reached way farther than just on the court."


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