On Monday morning, news began to spread of the shocking and tragic death of former Michigan State and professional basketball player Adreian Payne.
In the wake of this tragic news, Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo issued the following statement:
“I’m in shock at the tragic news of Adreian Payne’s death. Our prayers are with his family, teammates and loved ones.
“Adreian was loved by his teammates and coaches, who respected his development as a player and a person. He came to Michigan State with a ton of raw talent and put in the work to reach his goal of becoming an NBA player. Beyond that, he will long be remembered by Spartan fans for his kind heart, as his friendship and genuine bond with Lacey Holsworth touched the nation.
“Today is a difficult and sad day for the Spartan basketball family. Following graduation, Adreian regularly returned to East Lansing. In doing so, he developed and strengthened relationships with players from all eras. I’ve heard from many of those players today, each one experiencing heartbreak, and each one with their own fond memory of Adreian.”
After graduating from Michigan State, Payne was the No. 15 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He left MSU as one of nine players in program history with 1,200 career points (1,232) and 700 career rebounds (735), while also ranking as the school's all-time leader in blocked shots (141) at the time.
In his senior season, Payne averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds and was an All-Big Ten Second Team selection, while also earning USBWA and NABC All-District accolades and honorable mention Associated Press All-America honors.
Payne was selected to the Big Ten All-Tournament and the NCAA East Regional All-Tournament teams as the Spartans captured the 2014 Big Ten Tournament title and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. His postseason included a 41-point performance against Delaware in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, establishing many school records, including the most points ever by an Izzo-coached Spartan and the most points ever by a Spartan in the NCAA Tournament.
Payne was also the recipient of the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s first-ever Outreach Award in 2014 as part of the Wooden Award Gala. The Outreach Award was in recognition of the relationship he formed with then 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, who had been stricken with neuroblastoma in 2012 before her passing in 2014.
After being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, Payne would go on to play parts of four seasons in the NBA, including stints with the Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. He would continue to play internationally, including stops in China, Greece, France, Turkey and Lithuania.