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8-year-old girl befriended by basketball star dies of cancer

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Lacey Holsworth, the 8-year-old girl with cancer who befriended Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne, died at her St. Johns, Mich., home late Tuesday, her father said.

Lacey had met Mr. Payne during one of her hospital stays two years ago. The two quickly bonded, and Lacey in her little blond wig made several appearances at his basketball games, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Payne had spoken of Lacey last month after he scored a career-high 41 points to help Michigan State beat Delaware in one tournament game.

"It's like having a family member who's really sick," he said. "The only thing you can do is play basketball. You can't be there with them. Just knowing that when I play well, it makes her happy. It feels like I'm doing something, in a way, to make her feel better."

Lacey had neuroblastoma, a fetal-nerve cell cancer. She passed away "with her mommy and daddy holding her in their arms," her father, Matt Holsworth, told the AP. "She loved unconditionally and without hesitation — spreading her smile and love throughout the world."

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