Heart-wrenching news came Wednesday for those familiar with the Michigan State University basketball program.
Eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth, a staple at MSU games and nicknamed Princess Lacey, died in the early morning hours after her long battle with a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. (Via Instagram)
An Instagram post on the little girl's page broke the news to the world. "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 ..."
Support for Lacey grew after she struck a friendship two years ago with MSU star player Adreian Payne. He was her superman and she was his princess; they called each other brother and sister and their story was featured on national news.
"He's just a really nice brother. When he picks me up it just makes me feel happy and safe."
"I love her and I wouldn't want anything to happen to her." (Via ABC)
Lacey even walked with Payne during MSU senior night last month.
"I'd like to thank Lacey and Lacey's family and everybody for coming out and supporting me. And praying for Lacey because she's going through some hard times." (Via MSNBC)
"When he can walk in the room. You just see her light up like that and it means everything." (Via Big Ten Network)
The Detroit Free Press talked to ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who promised to raise $250,000 in the girl's name. Saying, "I can't believe it. ... This rips my heart out, man. … I'm gonna get that money if I have to give it myself.”
Support for Lacey Holsworth came from all around the country. #lovelikelacey and #RIPLacey were trending on Twitter. (Via Twitter)
And from Payne, a heartbreaking statement late Wednesday afternoon. “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." (Via Instagram / MSU_Spartans)