Several hundred Michigan State students gathered at the Rock on Michigan State’s campus Wednesday night to honor 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, who lost her battle with cancer the night before.
Holsworth, affectionately known as “Princess Lacey,” developed a special relationship with MSU basketball senior Adreian Payne. The two met when the basketball team made a visit to the hospital that Holsworth had been staying at. Their friendship grew quickly to the point where Payne had begun calling her his “little sister.”
Payne was among several basketball players and who attended the vigil, along with coach Tom Izzo.
An emotional Izzo addressed the crowd.
“This little tiny girl, she wasn’t that big,” Izzo said. “She wasn’t that strong. But she sure was powerful, wasn’t she?”
Quiet sobs were the only sound that could be heard as hundreds of students wrote personal messages for Lacey on the Rock.
MSU sophomore Grace Rozanski was among the students at the event.
“It was amazing that there could be so many Spartans there and absolutely no noise. It was absolutely silent,” Rozanski said. “Everyone was really respectful and everyone was honestly there to honor Lacey’s life.”
The Rock is a public message board for students to let others know what is happening on campus. On Wednesday night, it was adorned with the words, “MSU Loves Princess Lacey” and “Love like Lacey.”
Students linked arms and swayed as they sang MSU’s alma mater, “Shadows.”
“I bet very few people in the crowd actually knew her, so it was really cool to see so many people show up to write messages on the Rock and show their support,” MSU student Maura Dunleavy said.
“I’ve never been prouder of a group of students. This will be the proudest night I’ve had at MSU. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Izzo stated.
Payne was quiet and somber during the event. The only time he spoke was to simply thank everyone for their love and support.
Nursing student Gabrielle Oehring was in attendance as well.
“I left the event feeling a strong sense of community and togetherness,” Oehring said.
Izzo left everyone with a reminder to do what Lacey did best: smile.
A memorial service will be held in Holsworth’s honor on April 17 at the Breslin Center. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and Holsworth’s family asks that attendees wear bright colors smiles to celebrate Lacey’s life.
Katie Morang is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photos: Katie Morang/Impact Sports