An 8-year-old basketball fan who captured the hearts of the Michigan State University Basketball team, has died as a result of her advanced cancer.
On Wednesday, Lacey Holsworth's family announced the girl had succumbed to neuroblastoma, a cancer that begins in immature nerve cells.
Princess Lacey has achieved the ultimate victory. She now dances among angels…. The world is a… http://t.co/SAXeJ4D4zH
- Princess Lacey (@adorablelacey) April 9, 2014
"The world is a better place because you were in it. Our hearts are broken. We love you Doll. Dance all night," read a part of the post.
An Instagram post featuring the girl nicknamed "Princess Lacey" showed her wearing her trademark long, blonde wig.
The 8-year-old had become the unofficial top fan for the Michigan State University basketball team after she struck an unlikely friendship with star MSU player Adreian Payne.
"Words can't express how much I already miss Lacey. She is my sister, and will always be a part of my life," Payne said on Instagram today. "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. 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 right now. My princess is now an angel."
Lacey's father, Matt Holsworth, said that Payne and Lacey had "a bond that's special." The pair would text each other and called each other brother and sister. When MSU won the Big Ten Conference last month, Payne hoisted up Lacey so she could help him cut down the net.
During the MSU run through the 2014 March Madness tournament, Lacey became almost an overnight sensation as a kind of unofficial mascot for the team. The family even traveled to New York for MSU's final game against University of Connecticut in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA championship tournament.
"It's been great to open our eyes and see all the support not only from MSU and the community, but basically the whole nation," Holsworth told ABC News in an earlier interview. "We're very grateful to be a part of that and happy to be a part of Adreian's life."