Merriman: If everyone could inspire like Lacey

They say that it doesn’t matter what someone is born, but, instead, what they grow to be. In eight short years of life, Lacey Holsworth, whose battle with cancer and relationship with Michigan State’s basketball program became known nationwide, grew to be an inspiration to anyone who knew her story.

Lacey, or Princess Lacey as so many knew her as, passed away late Tuesday night. Only 8, and after a battle with a rare form of cancer known as neuroblastoma, Princess Lacey let go of this world and moved on to a higher place.

[ MORE: Twitter: Spartans, Big Ten mourn adorable Lacey’s death ]

Lacey’s family posted the following message on Instagram around 3 a.m.: “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 #LoveLikeLacey”

Gone now. Some of us felt that this could happen, even though we didn’t ever want to believe it. We couldn’t help but worry for a girl who was in a battle for her life every day. And now, we can’t help but mourn the passing of someone who inspired so many of us. Someone who put both time and life into true perspective.

Lacey became especially close with Adreian Payne after the basketball team visited her at Lansing Sparrow Hospital just over two years ago. Her inspirational story was introduced to the public last year when she was featured on an episode of “The Journey.”

She formed an instant bond with Payne. He was her Superman. She was his little sister.

Lacey joined Payne on his senior night celebration at Breslin Center. She cut down the nets with him in Indianapolis after the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament. She made the trip to New York to support the team in the NCAA Tournament, and then to Texas to cheer on Payne in last week’s college slam dunk contest.

Before one of his dunks, Payne had Lacey touch the basketball for good luck, and then pulled out a Superman shirt – in honor of the nickname she gave him.

There was a smile on Lacey’s face every time she was on camera, and every time she got the chance to be around her Superman. It was a smile that could light up a room – a smile that every college basketball fan across the nation became familiar with and looked forward to seeing whenever the Spartans took the court.

Through Payne’s presence and heartfelt friendship, Lacey was given something to smile about. Through her battle, her resilience and her inspiring story, Lacey gave all of us something to smile about, as well.

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

“At just eight years old, she has given us all a lifetime of memories,” Tom Izzo said. “We are all saddened today, but we are all better people for having known Lacey. Her smile and passion will live in the hearts of everyone she has touched across our country.”

While that smile will never be seen again, it will certainly be remembered lovingly by any of us lucky enough to have known her. It will be remembered by even those who didn’t know her, but were simply touched by her story. Gone now, but never forgotten.

They say you always remember your angels. And I’m sure that’s exactly what Lacey is now, up there in heaven.

One thing is for certain: She was always one down here.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (6 Comments)
Ronald Stearns on 4/9/2014 @ 6:05pm EDT Said:

Hadn’t seen this childs story until now, I’m 66 and at this moment have tears rolling down my cheeks, so sad she lost the battle but this world is a better place because of her. I really have deep admiration for Mr. Payne and wish that all human beings had the same compassion and tenderness he showed Lacey, may god bless them both.

Chaz on 4/9/2014 @ 7:13pm EDT Said:

I would like to echo Mr. Stearns comment. God speed.

John on 4/9/2014 @ 7:38pm EDT Said:

My heart is broken and my admiration for Adreian Payne will be never-ending. From a life-long Hawkeye – Stay Strong Spartans!!

Mike on 4/10/2014 @ 8:29pm EDT Said:

I too am a life long Hawkeye, but I love this story, only wish for a different ending. Rarely do we hear about the good things athletes do, only the negative. I have much respect for Adreian Payne and for everyone that made Lacey happy. Adreian will always have a little Princess looking down on him. Prayers to Lacey’s family and everyone that was a part of her life. God Bless

Aurora Farqueson on 4/11/2014 @ 1:05am EDT Said:

The friendship between Adreian and Lacey is a testament to the goodness that can be achieved when people look beyond age, gender, background or race and relate to each other instead based upon what is in their hearts. Their friendship should be a reminder for all of us to show kindness, respect and love to everyone who we cross paths with in life. Thank you Adreian and Lacey for being such great teachers !

Beaver on 4/11/2014 @ 4:44pm EDT Said:

May u RIP Lacey over us.