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MSU basketball fan Lacey Holsworth, 8, loses her battle with cancer

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Eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth, who gained national attention for her friendship with Michigan State basketball player Adreian Payne, died this morning.

The unlikely friendship between the Spartans' senior standout and the young girl battling cancer began more than two years ago, when the basketball team visited Lansing's Sparrow Hospital. Payne was especially struck by Holsworth, who couldn't walk at the time, as she was paralyzed by a massive tumor wrapped around her spine and abdomen.

"She calls me her 'Superman,' but she's the one who's got the super strength," Payne told columnist Drew Sharp. "If I can bring her a little bit of happiness to help her forget everything for a little while, then that's what I want to do."

Holsworth's cancer appeared to have gone into remission, but it returned last fall. Still, the Spartans' little fan made the trip to New York to watch MSU play in the NCAA tournament, and Holsworth even accompanied Payne during his walk out onto the court for MSU's "Senior Night" in March:

Coach Tom Izzo said he spoke with Payne early this morning.

"All I talked to him about is, some people go a lifetime without giving anything to somebody or making anybody else's life better," Izzo said. "I'm so proud of [Payne] and the rest of our guys, and I'm proud of Lacey and her family. If there's any way to go with dignity, she went."