College basketball analyst Dick Vitale honored Saint Johns, Michigan girl Lacey Holsworth who lost her battle with cancer April 8 at his fundraising gala through the V Foundation For Cancer Research Friday night.
Eight-year-old Lacey became known as “Princess Lacey” after her friendship with Michigan State Forward Adreian Payne touched the nation.
“I cried like a baby when I heard she passed,” Vitale said after her three-year fight with cancer. “I called her dad, and we were both crying like babies. And then I made the promise,” ESPN reported.
Vitale told Matt Holsworth that he would raise $250,000 in Lacey’s name for a pediatric cancer research grant.
The goal was met. “We can’t save the girl with the angel smile, but we can try to save others in her name,” Vitale said.
“I’m going to be 75 in June, and I have the most blessed of lives,” Vitale said. “With my last breath I’m going to beg and plead to get people who can help to help. They may be saving a life they love.”
“He said he would do his best, and somebody like him usually does it,” Matt Holsworth said. “We will do all we can to keep Lacey’s legacy alive.”
Matt Holsworth and wife Heather attended the gala.
As previously reported in The Inquisitr, Lacey met the MSU basketball team on a trip to the hospital to visit her. As the team was about to leave, she asked Payne to stay because, as she said, “I liked his smile.”
As Payne was leaving, Lacey asked for his phone number. The two had spoken or texted for almost every day for over a year. After she came home, Payne left tickets for her and her family for every Michigan State home game.
It is tradition that during college players’ last home game they have “Senior Night.” Each senior player is honored with a framed jersey and are introduced with their parent(s) and are given a chance to speak to the crowd. Payne brought his father and Lacey, and part of his comments were about her.
In a beautiful piece broadcast on the Big Ten Network, Lacey talked about Payne leaving Michigan State for the NBA, where he is projected to be a first-round draft pick.
“It’s kind of sad but I’m kind of happy for him, I think of him all the time and I love him,” she said.
“We have gotten notes from people in her situation from all over the country, and they are able to tell about some smiles she brought them,” Matt Holsworth said. “What she did with Adreian let her live as exciting a life as she could. She was in a lot of pain and sports helped keep the focus off that.”
[Image via mashable.com]