We’re not even two weeks removed from Michigan State’s Elite Eight loss to the eventual NCAA Champion UConn Huskies, but I still remember CBS’s version of the story of Spartans star Adreian Payne’s relationship with Princess Lacey moving the network’s analysts so much that they all admitted that they wanted Michigan State to keep winning. Outside of the most basketball-intense people and UConn fans, probably, I think that most of us who knew about 8-year old Lacey Holsworth were pulling for the Spartans, too, because she helped remind us that there is so much more than sports to care about in this strange world of ours.
Princess Lacey passed away earlier this morning, succumbing to her battle with neuroblastoma, as her family shared the news on Instagram with an image of the beautiful girl.
UPDATE: Dick Vitale told Lacey’s father that he’ll be donating $250,000 in her name, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“I can’t believe it,” Vitale said of Lacey’s death in a phone interview before sobbing for several seconds. “This rips my heart out, man.”
Spartans coach Tom Izzo also had some special words for Lacey’s legacy, as he told WVFN, according to Lansing State Journal reporter Chris Solari, “If there’s any way to go with dignity, she went. And if there’s any way to live 8 years and seem like she got 30 in.” He also said of her relationship with the team, “She taught me, she taught my family, my kids, she taught my players.” Izzo also said that he spoke with Payne earlier this morning, adding, “I think he appreciated it, and I know her family did.”
I’ll update this when Payne has issued a statement, as I’m sure he’s immensely heartbroken over this loss. In the meantime, here is the Big Ten Network’s emotional report on the bond between Payne and Princess Lacey.