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This Friendship Between a College Basketball Player and a Little Girl With Cancer Is Beyond Adorable

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This is Adreian Payne. He's a forward and center at Michigan State.

Adreian Payne, Lacey Holsworth

And this is 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth. She has a rare form of nerve cancer.

Adreian Payne, Lacey Holsworth

A few years ago, the two met. Michigan State's head coach Tom Izzo told Big Ten Network, "On a normal trip to the hospital that we do once in a while, she asked him to stick around and he did." They kept in touch over texts and social media. Now, they're "special friends," Adreian says.

Adreian Payne, Lacey Holsworth

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"She's like a sister to me," A.P. adds. "She has taught me to fight through everything. To always continue to have a smile on my face, even when things are going wrong."

Adreian Payne, Lacey Holsworth

Payne told The Detroit Free Press:

"She calls me her ‘Superman,' but she's the one who's got the super strength. She's incredible with everything she's gone through. [Doctors] told her she wouldn't walk again. But she did. She's just an incredible fighter. And if I can bring her a little bit of happiness to help her forget everything for a little while, then that's what I want to do."

Last year, Lacey ended up back in the hospital, and A.P. and Coach Izzo went to visit. Izzo recalls, "The mother was whispering, ‘A.P.'s here to see you.' And...she turned and her eyes opened for the first time in a couple of days. Her world was just better."

Adreian Payne, Lacey Holsworth

"Adreian is my brother," Lacey says. "I just think of him and I smile."

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A.P. is graduating and recently walked onto the home court at Michigan State for the last time on Senior Night. By his side was his dad and his biggest fan, Lacey.

Adreian Payne, Lacey Holsworth

"I wish [my mom and grandma] could be there. If I had to, I would stop playing basketball for them to be there. But Lacey is coming with me and for her to be able to do that, it means the world to me," A.P. says.

And when State won the Big Ten Conference days later, Lacey helped him cut down the net.

Watch their incredibly adorable story:

Spartans fan Jeff Martin started a crowdfund on to help cover Lacey's medical bills. So far, they've raised over $31,000 of the $50K goal. You can help and donate.

(H/T Jezebel)

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