Michigan State's Adreian Payne is coming up big on the biggest stage in college basketball, the NCAA Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness.
In Thursday afternoon's second-round victory against Delaware, the senior forward scored 41 points, the most by one player in the past 10 years of the Big Dance. The Spartans defeated Harvard over the weekend and are slated for a matchup against #1 East seed Virginia on Friday night.
Payne's future is bright, both in the tournament and the NBA, where he's projected to be a first-round draft pick. But wherever he goes, one of his biggest fans will remain to be 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, a girl fighting cancer who became close friends with Payne after they met two years ago during a team visit to a children's hospital.
They're so close, in fact, that Payne brought Lacey out on the court with him during Senior Night, his last home game at Michigan State. The honor is normally reserved for family members, but with Payne's mother and grandmother having passed, he carried Lacey out in his arms.
The feeling is mutual. When asked what she wants Payne to know before he leaves college, Lacey says, "That I think of him all the time and that I love him."
The Big Ten Network tells the story of how much the 6'10 Payne and little Lacy mean to each other.