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Adreian Payne wears purple to honor 'Princess Lacey' at NBA draft

Published: Friday, June 27 2014 12:53 p.m. MDT

Michigan State's Adreian Payne, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the 15th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Jason DeCrow, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne was selected as the No. 15 pick overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA draft Thursday night. But on such a memorable day, Payne didn't forget about the girl who encouraged him to be his best.

Payne attended the draft wearing purple in honor of 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, who died April 9 as a result of her advanced cancer, neuroblastoma. Payne and Lacey, known as "Princess Lacey," were not related, but they were as close as any biological brother and sister.

Their relationship began two years ago when Payne met Lacey in the hospital, and their bond was highlighted this year during the March Madness Tournament.

"Lacey is a special friend. She's like a sister to me," Payne said in video published earlier this year. "She's taught me to fight through everything, to always continue to have a smile on my face, even when things are going wrong."

That's why on Thursday, Payne honored Lacey's memory. Dressed in purple pants, a purple bow tie and sporting the words "Adreian & Lacey" on the inside of his suit coat, Payne explained that he wanted to do something special.

“I wanted to do something in her memory and something that would mean something to me and something that would stick out,” Payne told Joe Rexrode with The Detroit Free Press.

“Something different and something I knew she would really like. This is something I could do to bring more awareness to her cancer ... and help other kids."

Lacey's parents, Matt and Heather Hollsworth, were also in attendance with Payne and his family Thursday night.

Shortly after Payne was drafted, he was asked what Lacey would say to him if she were still here.

"She would definitely give me a big hug and tell me that she loves me," Payne told ESPN in a TV interview.

Email: spetersen@deseretnews.com | Twitter: @Sarah_DNews

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