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. —Adreian Payne
Early Wednesday morning, the family of 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, also known as Princess Lacey, announced the passing of their daughter Tuesday night after a long battle with neuroblastoma.
"Princess Lacey has achieved the ultimate victory. She now dances among angels," the Instagram post stated.
"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 Luke #LoveLikeLacey."
Lacey will be missed by not only her family but also by those who came to consider her family.
For the past two years, Michigan State basketball player Adreian Payne has considered himself Lacey's older brother. After the two met during one of Lacey's stays in the hospital, they were like brother and sister.
Payne visited his Lacey in the hospital, joined her for fundraising events and brought her to his basketball games. Lacey quickly became Payne's closest friend, and she now holds a special place in the hearts of the Michigan State basketball team members and the team's fans.
"Words can't express how much I already miss Lacey," Payne said in a statement issued by Michigan State University on April 9.
"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."
On Wednesday night, Payne, basketball coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State students gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of Lacey.
Although most had never met her, Lacey inspired many with her smile and positive attitude. The young girl had more than 38,000 followers on Twitter.
"Getting to know her made my life better. I hope it made your life better," Izzo said at the vigil.
Following the announcement of Lacey's death, many — including the university's rival, Michigan University — expressed sorrow for her family and Michigan State on Twitter.
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We're deeply saddened to hear the news of @adorablelacey's passing. Our hearts go out to her family and friends during this time.— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) April 9, 2014
Former Detroit coach and longtime ESPN announcer Dick Vitale also had a personal relationship with Lacey. After hearing of her death, Vitale pledged to raise $250,000 for cancer research.
"I was just crushed," Vitale said. "They should take Lacey's picture, and when they define courage, it should have her photo right next to it."
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