basketball-men-d1 flag

Beth Harris | The Associated Press | April 12, 2014

Payne receives Outreach Award at Wooden gala

Adreian Payne celebrates Michigan State's Big Ten tournament championship with Lacey Holsworth. Adreian Payne celebrates Michigan State's Big Ten tournament title with Lacey Holsworth.
LOS ANGELES -- Adreian Payne of Michigan State was honored at the John R. Wooden Award gala on Friday night for his friendship with a cancer-stricken 8-year-old girl.

Payne received the first Outreach Award at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. He attended the gala three days after the death of Lacey Holsworth, of St. Johns, Mich., who was stricken with neuroblastoma in 2011.

''She wouldn't want me to be sad,'' Payne said. ''It's hard.''

The crowd stood to applaud Payne, who spoke softly in accepting the award, saying he nearly didn't travel to Los Angeles after the girl's death but was encouraged to by her father.

''He told me Lacey would want me to come out,'' Payne said. ''It's not just for me, it's for her. That's the main reason why I came.''

Payne met Holsworth during one of her hospital stays just months after the death of the grandmother who raised him. Payne brought the girl to Michigan State games during the past two years, texted with her daily, and brought her on the court during Senior Night and the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis.

''It was a great moment, especially for our team,'' he said. ''To be able to share with Lacey just made it even better. I feel like a part of her family.''

Michigan State lost to Connecticut in the East Regional final of the NCAA tournament on March 30.

''I just wanted to keep winning games because I knew she looked forward to it,'' said Payne, a senior headed to the NBA draft. ''Once it was over it just seemed like she had nothing else to look forward to.''

Holsworth joined Payne at the team's season-ending banquet and at a slam-dunk contest during the Final Four last week.

''I learned so much, just seeing her fight every day,'' he said. ''It's really been hard. She taught me to preserve through anything and just be strong.''

A memorial service for Holsworth is set for Thursday at Michigan State's Breslin Center, the Spartans' home court.

Related:
Lopresti: Michigan State suffers true loss
Michigan State mourns loss 'Princess Lacey'

Tuesday night's chaos is becoming the new normal in college basketball this year

The reign of chaos is not going to rest easy this college basketball season, as Tuesday night was just another example of the roller-coaster ride this season is on.
READ MORE

Top-16 teams revealed in NCAA committee's first in-season look at 2020 March Madness bracket

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee revealed its top-16 teams during Saturday's Bracket Preview Show on CBS. Baylor was the unanimous overall No. 1 seed.
READ MORE

How the 'championship arc' may reveal this season's top Final Four contenders

Graph two metrics of recent Final Four teams and you'll see the championship arc, an easy way to identify potential college basketball national champions.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners