Thursday night at the Breslin Center on the Michigan State campus, family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of 8-year old Lacey Holsworth. Holsworth, whose fighting spirit was a source of inspiration for many, lost her lengthy bout with cancer on April 8.
Among those inspired by Holsworth was former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne, whom she referred to as her “Superman.” As part of Thursday’s ceremony Payne performed a “silent dunk” with his teammates looking on from underneath the basket. Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press wrote a story about the night, which included a video tribute from Holsworth’s mother, Heather.
Then it was time for Heather’s taped tribute. She said her “heart is screaming” as she mourns her daughter, who she called “a tomboy with a tutu.”
“There’s not enough pages in a book to do her justice,” Heather said, and she told of her daughter’s determination to beat her brothers in a race when she was 5 years old.
“The crazy thing?” Heather said. “She did it all in a skirt. And that’s what Lacey was. A mixture of grace and grit.”
Above is a video put together in Lacey’s honor by the Michigan State athletic department.
Michigan State senior forward Adreian Payne was honored at the John R. Wooden Awards Gala on Friday night in Los Angeles as Payne was given the first ever Outreach Award for his friendship with 8-year-old cancer patient Lacey Holsworth.
Holsworth sadly lost her life to neuroblastoma on April 9th after first being diagnosed in 2011.
Payne’s friendship with Princess Lacey became an international story this season as the 8-year-old Holsworth attended numerous Michigan State games, participated in Senior Day festivities with Payne and helped the Spartans cut down the nets in Indianapolis after their Big Ten Conference Tournament title. She also meant a lot to the Michigan State team and fanbase and head coach Tom Izzo gave a tearful speech at a candlelight vigil held for Lacey on Michigan State’s campus earlier this week.
The Associated Press was in Los Angeles to capture Payne’s speech upon accepting the Outreach Award:
“She wouldn’t want me to be sad,” Payne said. “It’s hard.”
The crowd stood to applaud Payne, who spoke softly in accepting the award, saying he nearly didn’t travel to Los Angeles after the girl’s death but was encouraged to by her father.
“He told me Lacey would want me to come out,” Payne said. “It’s not just for me, it’s for her. That’s the main reason why I came.”
Payne was also accompanied by Holsworth to the team’s season-ending banquet and traveled with him to Final Four weekend when the senior participated in the college dunk contest.
“I just wanted to keep winning games because I knew she looked forward to it,” Payne said. “Once it was over it just seemed like she had nothing else to look forward to.”
A memorial service for Holsworth is also set for Thursday at Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
“I learned so much, just seeing her fight every day,” Payne said. “It’s really been hard. She taught me to preserve through anything.”
A few days removed from winning the Big Ten tournament title, the question for East Region No. 4 seed Michigan State was whether or not they’d be able to build on the momentum that has led to many picking them to reach the Final Four. Thanks in large part to Adreian Payne, Tom Izzo’s team advanced to the round of 32 with a 93-78 win over Delaware in Spokane.
Payne scored a career-high 41 points, with 23 of those coming in the first half as Michigan State took control of the game against the CAA champions. The senior forward was nearly unstoppable, making ten of his 15 shot attempts from the field and all 17 of his free throws while also grabbing eight rebounds.
As a team Michigan State shot 53.6% from the field and 10-for-18 from beyond the arc, finding the looks they desired for much of the afternoon. While there were a couple lulls, allowing the Blue Hens to remain within striking distance, it didn’t seem as if the Spartans were truly threatened against a team they matched up well with.
However Payne wasn’t the only standout for Michigan State, as guard Travis Trice contributed 19 points and three rebounds off the bench. With Keith Appling and Denzel Valentine combining to score just seven points against Delaware, Trice’s scoring output gave Michigan State a welcome boost. In total four Spartans scored in double figures, and Appling tallied seven assists with just two turnovers.
Next up for Michigan State is No. 12 Harvard, which beat No. 5 Cincinnati 61-57 in the first game of the day in Spokane.