Matt Mauser, the husband of one of the victims in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, broke down in tears while reminiscing on his life with the basketball coach in a heartbreaking new interview.
Mother-of-three Christina Mauser, 38, was remembered for her skills as a basketball coach, a wife, a mom, and a teacher when her husband Matt Mauser spoke to CNN‘s Anderson Cooper on Jan. 28, two days after her tragic death. The heartbroken widower called his wife a “strong” and “relentless” basketball coach, who was hand-picked by Kobe Bryant, 41, to coach at his Mamba Sports Academy. She was on-board the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas on Jan. 26, which claimed the lives of all nine passengers, including the NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Matt, a musician who is part of a Frank Sinatra tribute band, told Anderson that he missed the “little things” about his wife. “The thing that hurts me the most – it’s not the big things, it’s not that she was good at basketball – the things I miss the most are the tiny little things,” he said, holding back tears. “My wife was focused on what kind of foods to give our kids, [taking them to] the doctor … she would research every disease that was out there. She was relentless … she was kind, she was funny, and our goal was to make each other laugh every day.”
Christina was the girl’s basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Orange Country, and was recruited by Kobe to coach one of his teams at Mamba Sports Academy. Th helicopter was actually headed to Mamba Sports Academy for a game when it crashed. Matt revealed that Christina’s nickname was “M.O.D” aka the Mother of Defense. “Kobe was incredible at recognizing talent,” Matt admitted. “He called me and said, ‘I want to offer Christina a job’ and I said, ‘You cant do that, she’s running my music, she’s got three kids, she’s teaching full-time’ and he just goes, ‘Ok I’ll call her’. When we started dating, I had a basketball hoop in my front yard, and I thought I was pretty good. I got on the driveway with her, and man, I had never experienced anything like Christina: she was quick, strong, and she had a deadly 3-pointer.”
Matt also opened up to Anderson about the heartbreak he and his three young children – Penny Rose, 11, Tommy, 9, and Ivy, 3 – were experiencing now that Christina is gone. “The first two days I felt extremely alone, it was really dark,” he explained. “I’m trying to be open to not judging myself if I’m hurting [and] if the kids are hurting, not judging them, just loving them and loving other people around me that are hurting as well.” Matt said his children were all coping differently with the loss of their mother. “My little one, her birthday is next week and she’s going to be four, so I’m trying to navigate that,” he revealed. “She doesn’t really understand it all [but] she knows we’re grieving, she says ‘don’t cry’. My son is a little more quiet, but he has outbursts so I try to do physical activities with him, I let him get it out.” Matt told Anderson his oldest daughter, Penny Rose, not only lost her mother, but a mentor in basketball legend Kobe Bryant. “She played on Kobe’s younger team the ‘little Mambas’, and Kobe absolutely loved my daughter,” Matt explained. “They had a secret handshake, he called her Pen Pen.”
Christina was a California native: She grew up in Huntington Beach, and remained in the area to raise her family. Matt said the couple met in a local bar. “We met in the most wholesome of places: a bar,” he laughed. “She asked me what my type was, and I looked at her and said ‘you’re my type’ and that was it.”
The Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California claimed the lives of all nine people on board. Pilot Ara Zobayan was flying the helicopter when it crashed amidst foggy conditions around 9:45 a.m. local time. The helicopter burst into flames as it hit the ground, killing Ara, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, her teammates, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, Payton’s mom, Sarah Chester, Alyssa’s parents, John and Keri Altobelli, and coach, Christina Mauser.