Adreian Payne fan Lacey Holsworth, 8, dies from cancer

Lacey Holsworth, the 8-year-old who befriended Michigan State superstar Adreian Payne, died late Tuesday night. Her parents confirmed the news Wednesday morning with a photo posted to Instagram that read: “Princess Lacey has achieved the ultimate victory. She now dances among angels…. The world is a better place because you were in it. Our hearts are broken. We love you Doll. Dance all night… Mommy and Daddy, Will, Mitchell, and Luke.”

[ MORE: Watch all of BTN’s Lacey Holsworth videos ]

Holsworth, who suffered from neuroblastoma, met Payne two years ago. The two formed a genuine friendship, and Holsworth quickly became “Superman’s” No. 1 fan. She and her family traveled to Michigan State games, including the Big Ten and NCAA tourneys last month, Payne’s final college games. Holsworth also attended the team banquet and was in Dallas last week to watch Payne compete in the slam dunk contest.

[ MORE: Twitter: Spartans, B1G basketball community mourn Lacey Holsworth’s death ]

Izzo and Spartans host Holsworth at team banquet:

Here’s Holsworth as Payne’s special guest on Senior Night:

And here’s our touching BTN Journey feature on the two:

[ MORE: Tom Izzo, Mark Hollis release statement on Lacey Holsworth ]

Spartan family reacts to news:

Others offered their condolences, too:


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (22 Comments)
Shelia Brown-Parmelee on 4/9/2014 @ 9:52am EDT Said:

God Bless this family as they have truly lost an angel here on earth. She was an inspiration to all of us. God be with Adrian also, she will surely be missed by him.

Justine Buerkle on 4/9/2014 @ 9:52am EDT Said:

I think the phrase “lost her battle with cancer” is deceiving. If a person lives a life like Lacey, did she really lose? If you didn’t let cancer take your mind and your soul, I think you die a winner. As Lacey’s parents said, I think she “achieved the ultimate victory.”

Doug on 4/9/2014 @ 10:08am EDT Said:

Adreian made Lacey and her family so happy these last few months. After being her gaurdian angel, she is now his.

Karen Thomas Roback on 4/9/2014 @ 10:14am EDT Said:

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory that no one can steal.

So sudden, just watch her judge the slam dunk contest with her Superman. My condolences to all who knew her and loved her.

Faygo on 4/9/2014 @ 10:18am EDT Said:

This Spartan nearly lost it ths morning riding the Metro to work and learning of her passing. Such a touching story. RIP, Lacey.

delmar1950 on 4/9/2014 @ 10:21am EDT Said:

Rest in peace little Lacey and our prayer goes out to the family. Buckeye Nation!

Ron on 4/9/2014 @ 10:37am EDT Said:

BTN, thank you for doing the story on Lacey (The Journey). It was touching, heartfelt, and shows the positive effect sports can have on others. Most importantly, it introduced us to Lacey, her family, and their journey with cancer; giving us all the opportunity to pray for, think of, and send love to the family this morning.

Mark Shingler on 4/9/2014 @ 10:42am EDT Said:

Rest in peace Lacey and our deepest sympathies to the family. Lacey you truly are an inspiration to all of us! Badger Nation.

Dave Brown on 4/9/2014 @ 11:42am EDT Said:

So sad to hear, especially since we’ve all followed this touching story and seen her on tv at games very recently. Prayers from this Illini to Lacey’s family, Adrean Payne and the Spartans.

Bill Watson on 4/9/2014 @ 12:03pm EDT Said:

God bless you Lacey, we will all miss you. You’re a beautiful little angel that has touch so many lives, fly high little angel, fly in the sky. Hoosier Nation

Sam on 4/9/2014 @ 12:03pm EDT Said:

RIP Lacey.. You were truly a God sent angle. My your family have peace knowing that their little girl is now home and no longer sick with this terrible disease. God bless you all…

Frank B on 4/9/2014 @ 12:23pm EDT Said:

Today is about Lacey, as it should be. This also shows one of the reasons I love the Spartans’ basketball program so much, Coach Izzo helping these young guys become men and leaders in their community. Thank you, Adriean, for showing us all an example of how to help someone who was in such an unfair and challenging place in the world. And thank you to the Big Ten programs expressing their support across the lines of rivalry.

Kathleen Benson-Chaney on 4/9/2014 @ 12:41pm EDT Said:

Kathleen on 4/9/2014 — Sad, sad, sad — God bless Lacey’s parents; and God Bless Adreian Payne for becoming her big brother. Blessings to all those who had the bounty of getting to know the sweet cherub who was Lacey

Cheis on 4/9/2014 @ 12:50pm EDT Said:

I’m in tears reading this. May god bless that beautiful little girl and her family. Being a father I can’t even begin to imagine how her parents must feel. Let her memory live on forever, just seeing the little bit I did about her she truly seemed like an amazing person who touched everyone that had the pleasure of knowing her. Rest in peace little angel.

Doug on 4/9/2014 @ 1:02pm EDT Said:

“We are all Spartans today”… God bless you Lacey and condolences to the whole Holsworth family. Your life touched my family and we are very sad to see you go so soon after learning of your story. Husker Nation will have you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

sundevilpeg on 4/9/2014 @ 7:54pm EDT Said:

I found out at 6AM today, via a tweet from Jay Bilas. Lacey was the only person he followed. Here’s what he said: “RIP Lacey Holsworth. A beautiful soul, whose strength and courage touched and inspired us all. Heartbreaking.”

Laura Burget on 4/9/2014 @ 9:18pm EDT Said:

Such a sad day- Lacy united the Big 10 and the country with the face of bravery and grace. Thank you to the Holsworth family for sharing those precious moments with the world. May you find great comfort and peace knowing that Lacy left a legacy bigger than most 90 year olds!!!!!

Gene Winters on 4/9/2014 @ 9:58pm EDT Said:

I think Coach Valvano finally found someone to hug, and I hope he hasn’t let her go yet.

Dave on 4/10/2014 @ 10:16pm EDT Said:

Our hearts and prayers go out to the Holsworth family for the loss of their incredible Lacey. Much Love to Adreian Payne – such a big heart! He’s won me over as a big fan!

Margaret on 4/11/2014 @ 8:38am EDT Said:

The ultimate victory is yours indeed Lacey. Thank you precious Holwsorth family for sharing Lacey’s heavenly blessings and allowing her incredilous heart and soul to influence so many around the world. As Coach Izzo said, she is the example of what people should be. And through her passing, may her cause to love unconditionally reach as many hearts as possible. Thank you for sharing your lives with the world…

Tom on 4/11/2014 @ 7:15pm EDT Said:

WOW! I believe I’ve shed as many if not more tears over this precious angel than when my own “Morning Star” Jaime was tragically killed in a head on collision a year ago this month! My heart’s prayers go to the Holsworth family, asking GOD to give you peace and healing during this tragic time! Take consolation that Lacey is flying high with the angels in Paradise! GOD bless you!

Deana on 4/19/2014 @ 1:37am EDT Said:

I have been touched by Princess Lacey and the whole MSU team. I wear my Princess Lacey “I have a history of victory” with pride and sadness. Love and prayers to her family and AP.