DETROIT - The 8-year-old girl whose friendship with Michigan State's Adreian Payne was a touching storyline amid March Madness has lost her battle with cancer.
The family of Lacey Holsworth, also known as Princess Lacey, posted on her Instagram and Twitter account early Wednesday morning that she had "achieved the ultimate victory. She now dances among angels."
Holsworth, who is from St. Johns, Mich., had been battling neuroblastoma.
Holsworth met the 6-foot-10 senior star college basketball player two years ago when he visited her at a hospital. Ever since then, the two were frequently together both on and off the court.
When Payne was honored at the Spartan's Senior Night in early March, Lacey was there. When the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament, Lacey was there, helping Payne cut down a portion of the net.
Payne released this statement on Wednesday:
"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."
Statement from Tom Izzo on behalf of the MSU basketball program:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Holsworth family today.
Princess Lacey has taught us all an incredible lesson about love, strength and toughness. We can all learn from her on how to handle adversity with class and dignity.
She has become an inspiration to our team, our families, our university, and most recently our entire nation. At just eight years old, she has given us all a lifetime of memories.
We are all saddened today, but we are all better people for having known Lacey. Her smile and passion for life will live in the hearts of everyone she has touched across our country.
Copyright 2014 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.