Michigan State star Adreian Payne has struck up an incredible friendship with an eight-year-old cancer sufferer after meeting her in hospital. The basketball player, 23, has become an ardent cheerleader for Lacey Holsworth, from St Johns, Michigan after they met two years ago and now he texts her every day. When his team won the Big Ten Tournament Championship earlier this month, he carried Lacey in his arms as he was honored, and asked her to help him cut the net following the game.
Lacey is my special friend and she’s a good sister to me,’ he told BTN. ‘She has taught me to fight through everything, to always have a smile on my face even when things are wrong.’ He calls her Princess Lacey. ‘Adreian’s my brother,’ she added. ‘I just think of him and I smile.’ The duo met in Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital at the start of 2012, a month after Lacey was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer that originates in the nerves.
Doctors discovered that she had two tumors – one in her abdomen roughly the size of a football and another wrapped around her spine, according to her fundraising page. Within days, the tumors had left her paralyzed and her family was warned that she might just have two weeks to live – but after chemotherapy, the spinal tumor dissolved to soft tissue.
A month later, the Michigan State Basketball team visited the hospital and met Lacey, and Adreian stayed behind to talk with Lacey more. They struck up a friendship, enjoy drawing together and text every day, according to reports. He also joined her family at a fundraiser for Lacey last month. ‘There’s days where the smiles don’t come as easily,’ her mother Heather said. ‘When he can walk in the room and you see her just light up like that, it means everything.’ Payne is not unaccustomed to struggle; his mother passed away in his arms when he was 13 after a sever asthmatic attack as he desperately searched for her inhaler, the Detroit Free Press reported.
After her death, his grandmother became his legal guardian but she passed away two years ago from respiratory failure due to asthma complications. He has also battled breathing issues due to small lungs, but he has learned to take smaller breaths. ‘It can’t be all about you,’ Payne said. ‘That’s true with your teammates. What can you do to help make them better? And it’s true with others you meet. ‘It’s more important to have a role in other people’s lives that you care for.’ He said that as soon as he met Lacey, he was touched by her fighting spirit. ‘She calls me her “Superman”, but she’s the one who’s got the super strength,’ Payne said. ‘And if I can bring her a little bit of happiness to help her forget everything for a little while, then that’s what I want to do.’
Lacey’s cancer was thought to have been beaten last summer but it returned last fall and she continues to undergo treatment. She suffered a seizure on Tuesday, but she’ll continue to be rooting for Payne and Michigan State in the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. ‘It’s like having a family member that’s really sick and ill,’ he told Mlive. ‘The only thing you can do is just play basketball because you can’t be there with them. And just knowing that when I play well it makes her happy, it feels like I’m doing something in a way to help her feel better.’ MSU plays number one seed UVA on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. source .