Adreian Payne has made a name for himself on a national level. He has become one of the best big men in all of college basketball with his athletic dunks and above-the-rim rebounds.
It’s easy to tell why the 6-foot-10 forward from Michigan State is loved by his fans and respected by his opponents. Now there is another reason people love and respect him, and that reason is Lacey Holsworth.
Holsworth is a local girl battling neuroblastoma and about a year ago, Adreian Payne became her best friend and hero. Head coach Tom Izzo makes sure his Spartans give back to the community on a regular basis and a year ago, he took his team to the local hospital to visit a sick little girl looking for a smile. Little did Izzo know, that little girl would change the life of one of his players.
While the Spartans were visiting little Lacey, she was asked to choose two players to spend an hour playing with in her hospital room. She smiled, turned and pointed to the guy with the big smile– Payne.
The story was first told on The Big Ten Network a few weeks ago and it highlighted their relationship.
Payne and little Lacey both text each other on a regular basis and he never forgets to tell her to “stay strong for me” and to keep that smile on her face. She returns the favor and tells him to keep playing well and maybe thrown down a dunk for her.
She reserves a wall in her room for pictures of Adreian and she makes sure to kiss her poster of all the Spartans on each game day, making sure to kiss Adreian’s picture a few more times than the rest.
This is one of the feel-good stories in college basketball because while many athletes give back and act like it’s a service to the community, Payne feels like he’s getting as much as he’s giving to Lacey, maybe even more.
Payne established a name for himself as a star basketball player and scholar athlete, but during the process, he earned a name for himself as a hero.