Senior night at the MSU-Iowa basketball game Thursday was extra special for one fan in the crowd.
Eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth of St. Johns, who has been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an extremely aggressive form of childhood cancer, watched from the crowd as her favorite player took the court for the final time at the Breslin Center.
It's an unlikely match that began two years ago after a visit at the hospital from MSU's Adreian Payne.
The two quickly bonded and have been close ever since.
"I like his smile and he's a really nice friend," Lacey said grinning.
Away from the court, the two spend time together regularly coloring and reading, and they tweet and text back and forth, cheering each other on.
"She's easy to fall in love with, with her bright smile and personality but it's beyond what we could've ever imagined," said Matt Holsworth, Lacey's father.
Lacey's relationship with Adreian provides a much needed distraction from her now daily radiation treatments.
"To see her get outside of that world and back into a normal life and to see her smile and see that joy on her face.. it makes every parent happy," Matt said.
The friendship has spurred numerous opportunities along the way, with the family attending the Dick Vitale Gala last May which helps to benefit cancer research for children.
Vitale, who was announcing the game Thursday night on ESPN, took a moment beforehand to take pictures with Lacey and her parents.
"It's great to see a love affair in a situation like that where there's such love, respect and admiration," Vitale said. "She is one courageous young lady, her courage is unbelievable."
Buffalo Wild Wings plans to hold a fundraiser next Monday at both the East Lansing and Lansing locations to help raise money for medical costs.
The fundraiser will run all day from 11am until 2am with 10 percent of all sales going toward the "One Step Closer" Lacey fund.