death of 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, whose battle with cancer and
friendship with Michigan State basketball became national stories, has
inspired an outpouring of support and mourning today.
emotion from MSU basketball coach Tom Izzo, who said in a phone
interview: "I'm supposed to be a guy who leads men, and now an
8-year-old has impacted my life like this. … the impact on all of us
will be lasting, and that's especially true for Adreian (Payne)."
inspired ESPN analyst Dick Vitale to call Lacey's father, Matt
Holsworth, and tell him he's going to donate $250,000 in her name, with
fund raising starting now at dickvitaleonline.com.
believe it," Vitale said of Lacey's death in a phone interview before
sobbing for several seconds. "This rips my heart out, man."
family posted the following on Instagram around 3 a.m.: "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... Mommy and Daddy, Will, Mitchell and
Lacey, of St. Johns, became especially
close with MSU senior forward Payne, starting more than two years ago
when the team visited her at Lansing's Sparrow Hospital. A tumor had
wrapped around her spine at the time, limiting her ability to walk.
Treatments eventually removed the cancer from her body, but it returned
in the fall and her condition worsened in recent weeks.
time, she accompanied Payne on his senior night at Breslin Center,
helped cut down the nets after MSU won the Big Ten tournament in
Indianapolis, and made appearances on "The Today Show" and "Good Morning
America." She was with Payne last week in Texas, cheering him on in a
slam dunk contest.
Izzo said he talked to Payne around 7 this morning about Lacey's passing.
though he knew this was inevitable, it's hard," Izzo said of Payne.
"But he took it with the class and dignity that she taught him. I told
him, 'Not everybody gets to touch somebody's life like you have. And
sometimes other people impact your life, too.'"
Izzo also spoke
on the phone with Vitale, who had Lacey and Payne as his guests at his
annual Dick Vitale Gala to fight cancer last spring in Sarasota, Fla.
Izzo said he was blown away by the emotion and determination from
"His passion for this," Izzo said of Vitale and fighting cancer, "makes my passion for basketball look like an ant."
have expressed their support on Twitter, including ESPN analyst Jay
Bilas, who posted: "RIP Lacey Holsworth. A beautiful soul, whose
strength and courage touched and inspired us all. Heartbreaking."