If you’re a college basketball fan, you probably are familiar with the story of Adreian Payne and Lacey Holsworth.
The 8-year-old girl and Michigan State senior met over a year ago when the Spartans basketball team visited Sparrow Hospital. Holsworth was being treated for neuroblastoma, a form of child cancer that had been threatening her life since she was diagnosed in 2011.
Holsworth and Payne connected during the visit, and they formed a friendship. They traded inspirational text messages and tweets.
Holsworth was Payne’s escort on Senior Night, she cut down the net with the team after they won the Big Ten title, she traveled with the team to the East Regional in New York, and she was there when Payne won the dunk contest in Dallas last week.
A week later, the young girl has passed away.
“Princess Lacey has achieved the ultimate victory,” Lacey’s family posted on her Instagram account. “She now dances among angels.”
Payne released this statement after learning about the death of his young friend.
“Words can’t express how much I already miss Lacey. She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life. She taught me how to fight through everything with a smile on my face even when things were going wrong. I’m a better man because of her. She said she first liked me because of my smile, but it’s her smile that made America fall in love with her. I know she’s smiling and dancing in heaven right now. My princess is now an angel.”
Payne called her his “special friend” and says she’s like a sister. This video produced by Big Ten Network last month shows more on the relationship between the two: