By Val Willingham
(CNN) — Sad news Wednesday morning: Eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth, the young girl with cancer who struck up an amazing friendship with a college basketball star, has passed away.
Princess Lacey, as her friends and fans called her, made headlines when she met Michigan State basketball player Adreian Payne during his visit to a children’s hospital two years ago. The pair became fast friends and even called each other “brother” and “sister.” When the Michigan State Spartans made it to the NCAA tournament this year, Lacey was an omnipresent force, and she and Payne’s friendship captured hearts across the country.
Because of her beautiful spirit and ongoing fight with neuroblastoma, Princess Lacey had more than 25,000 admirers on Twitter. On Wednesday morning, her account, which is oftentimes run by her family members, posted a heartbreaking Instagram update:
“Princess Lacey has achieved the ultimate victory. She now dances among angels….,” the update read. “The world is a better place because you were in it. Our hearts are broken. We love you Doll. Dance all night… Mommy and Daddy, Will, Mitchell, and Luke.”
So far, Payne has not made a comment on his Twitter account, where he has posted so many pictures of the pair enjoying time together and taking in the excitement of the basketball season. However, other members of the college basketball community have expressed their grief and condolences.
Gary Harris @thats_G_ (Michigan State player): Wow i dont even wanna believe it @adorablelacey ‘s family is in my prayers. I know she will be watching over us all #RIPLACEY
ESPN College Basketball @ESPNCBB: Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Princess Lacey Holsworth
NCAA March Madness @marchmadness: We are saddened by the passing of @adorablelacey, who warmed our hearts this past basketball season.
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