Nearly two years have passed since I began writing this column. Many people have been quoted, but no one I have ever referenced has died, at least to my knowledge. That is until last Tuesday night, April 8. Eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth, the focus of my column two weeks ago of April 2, is gone. She lost her two-year battle with Neuroblastoma after becoming a beloved mascot of the Michigan State University basketball team and center Adreian Payne’s inspiration for achieving athletic greatness.
“Words can’t express how much I already miss Lacey,” Payne said in a statement. “She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life. She taught me how to fight through everything with a smile on my face even when things were going wrong. I’m a better man because of her,” further stated Payne. “She said she first liked me because of my smile, but it’s her smile that made America fall in love with her. I know she’s smiling and dancing in heaven. My princess is now an angel,” said Payne.
A public memorial service will be held Thursday, April 17 at MSU’s Breslin Center. This is the arena where “Princess Lacey” attended multiple basketball games and was adored by both the team and other fans as her health challenges became public, along with her importance to the MSU squad, and Tom Izzo, the Michigan State head basketball coach.
Matt Holsworth, Lacey’s father, is urging those who plan to attend, “to wear bright colors and plenty of smiles, since Lacey spread cheer to everyone she met.” Lacey died at their St. John, Michigan home in the arms of both her father and mother. Lacey had three older brothers, and a “fourth brother,” in reference to Adreian Payne.
MSU lost a disappointing game in the “Sweet Sixteen” to eventual tournament winner, the University of Connecticut on March 30. I have to wonder if the team knew that Lacey’s illness would be the victor, and the stress of her deteriorating health had an impact on the outcome of that game. Chances are we will never know.
Surprisingly, after much publicity during March Madness of Adreian and Lacey’s unique bond, there was no mention that I found last Wednesday evening on national news of her passing. This was after several networks had aired stories specifically about their friendship and her inspiration to the team as her cancer battle became more challenging.
You were an angel to so many, Lacey. Despite your pain, an undeniable spirit kept you smiling. This world could use many more Laceys along with the unparalleled example she set of true perseverance. Even though she referred to Adreian as her “Superman,” I think we can all agree that she was a “Supergirl.”
My guess would be that Thursday’s memorial service will hold a capacity crowd of 14,759 at the Breslin Center and few dry eyes. How an 8-year-old could impact so many is truly a miracle. Thank you, Lacey, Adreian and the Michigan State Spartans for a memorable season and a great run in March Madness. You made all of us Big Ten fans very proud.
A happier note includes the undeniably likeable Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson, Jr., who won Sunday’s 2014 Master’s Golf Tournament. When victorious in 2012, donning his first green jacket, Watson’s post-tournament emotional tribute was to his late father, Gerry Lester Sr., who had died in 2010 of throat cancer. This year’s win was dedicated to his adopted son, Caleb, wife, Angie, along with his steadfast Christian faith.
Watson was nicknamed by his late father after NFL player, Bubba Smith, for having a “fat face” as a child. As a post-tournament Sunday celebration, he dined at a local Waffle House with his wife and friends in Augusta. No fancy meal for him, since Watson prefers bib-overalls versus the confines of his two green Master’s jackets and a tie.
It is refreshing to see a normal, unpretentious golfer win, instead of the entitled egos that seem to be the mainstream personality of the game. Watson is bringing the sport back to the masses rather than just coveted by the elite.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Wednesdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, e-mail at MariannMain@GMail.com. or send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., Suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.