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.
Another cool moment: Adreian Payne says he chose his outfit to match the bracelet he wears honoring Lacey Holsworth. pic.twitter.com/6QP5au7y7H— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) June 27, 2014
Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @Sarah_DNews
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company