A native of Cincinnati, Altobello moved to New Orleans as a child. After graduating from Warren Easton and then Loyola, he put together a storied 38-year high school coaching career, first at St. Aloysius (now Brother Martin) and then at De La Salle.
His career included coaching football and golf, but Altobello excelled on the baseball diamond and on the basketball court. He became one of the winningest basketball coaches in Louisiana sports history with a record of 589-92, an .865 winning percentage.
In six years at St. Aloysius, Altobello's basketball teams won six city championships and four state championships. His 1947 team, which included future Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer Nick Revon, Lou Bravo and Eddie Davis, was selected by The Times-Picayune in 2003 as one of the top prep teams of all time.
He also led his baseball teams to three city titles, four state titles and the national championship at Johnstown, Pa.
Altobello coached the bulk of his career at De La Salle, from 1953 to 1970. His Cavaliers won four basketball state championships, 16 district championships and 18 tournament titles. Three of his teams went undefeated (1948-49, 1950-51, 1956-57).
In 1995, De La Salle renamed its gymnasium the Johnny J. Altobello Sports Complex. He has been inducted into the Louisiana High School Coaches Hall of Fame, the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, the Italian-American Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Writers Hall of Fame.
Altobello died June 30, 2009 at 89 years old.
Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune