They’re unlikely friends, but Michigan State hoop star Adreian Payne and eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth are the cutest thing you’ll see today. During a charitable hospital visit two years ago with his college basketball team, Payne met the little girl who is fighting nerve cancer and was struck by her optimism despite her very dire circumstances.
The two kept in touch, either via text message, Instagram or in-person visits when Payne returned to the hospital or the Holsworth family visited the Breslin Center where Michigan State plays home games, writes Mashable.
“She calls me her ‘Superman,’ but she’s the one who’s got the super strength,” Payne told the Free Press. “She’s incredible with everything she’s gone through. (Doctors) told her she wouldn’t walk again. But she did. She’s just an incredible fighter. And 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.”
To cheer her up, Payne gives Lacey the superstar treatment, bringing her along for the senior’s last walk onto his home court with his dad and hoisting her up to cut the net after Michigan State won the Big Ten Conference tournament.
She’s even become a Michigan State star herself, with a fan named Jeff Martin kicking off a crowd-sourcing campaign to finance her medical expenses. Today, Lacey’s fund has amassed $29,102 but their goal is $50,000 with 72 days left to fund-raise.
Payne and his Michigan State team are doing well in the March Madness competition and Lacey’s pulling for her guy. Here’s to winning, caring and the general warm and fuzzies.