Adreian Payne and Lacey Holsworth formed a special bond that went beyond a little girl's idolization of a basketball star and beyond friendship.

They became family.

Holsworth, 8, of St. Johns, died late Tuesday after a long fight with cancer. She came to know Payne and become part of the MSU basketball family beginning with a hospital visit by the Spartan basketball players some years ago.

Payne and Holsworth became brother and sister, with "Princess Lacey," as she was called, joining Payne on the court for senior day ceremonies after MSU beat Iowa on March 6, cutting down the nets with Payne at the Big Ten tournament and even cheering him on from the sidelines at the college basketball dunk contest last week.

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Payne released the following statement Wednesday evening, hours after his close friend passed away:

“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. She said she first liked me because of my smile, but it’s her smile that made America fall in love with her. I know she’s smiling and dancing in heaven right now. My princess is now an angel.”

MSU will host a memorial service for Holsworth at the Breslin Center on April 17.