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Who Was Adreian Payne? Remembering the Life of the Late Basketball Star

Bettina Dizon
May 10, 2022
12:45 P.M.
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Former NBA star Adreian Payne passed away in a horrific incident that left family, friends, and fans mourning his death. The late athlete was known for his career and for showing kindness to a young cancer patient.

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Former NBA player Adreian Payne had an outstanding basketball career after playing for different teams since being drafted in 2014.

Unfortunately, his life was cut short after a tragic incident that took place on May 9, 2022, in Orange County in the wee hours of the morning.

Adreian Payne on court during the Midwest Region Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. | Source: Getty Images

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WHAT HAPPENED TO ADREIAN PAYNE?

According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, a shooting occurred at 1:37 a.m. Payne, 31, was shot in Orlando, Florida, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Lawrence Dority, the main suspect, was arrested at the scene of the crime and was charged with first-degree murder.

The motive for shooting the basketball star is still unknown, but Dority is currently being held at the Orange County Jail. 

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WHO WAS ADREIAN PAYNE? REMEMBERING THE LIFE OF THE FORMER MICHIGAN STATE BASKETBALL STAR

Before being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014 draft, the 6-foot-10 athlete played for Michigan State under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo. He was later traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds.

NBA legend Magic Johnson revealed that he and his wife were heartbroken over Payne's passing.

Payne played for Orlando Magic in 2018 before signing with Panathinaikos, a Greek Basket League club. He also played for Juventus in Lithuania, Turkey, Greece, France, and China.

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REMEMBERING ADREIAN'S TOUCHING FRIENDSHIP WITH CANCER PATIENT LACEY HOLSWORTH

In light of his passing, Payne was remembered by colleagues and fans for his hard work and dedication. However, his notable tributes included those who reminisced about Payne's kind heart and memories with Lacey Holsworth, a young cancer patient he befriended.

Payne and Holsworth met when he visited a hospital in 2011 and immediately got along. He referred to the little girl as his younger sister and even invited Holsworth and her family to Michigan games.

The eight-year-old made headlines in some news outlets and even appeared on the “Today” show. Unfortunately, her years-long battle with neuroblastoma was not getting any better.

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Radiation treatment was no longer shrinking the tumor pushing against her brain, so doctors had no choice but to put a timeline on her life. Her father said:

“One day, we're watching her smile and cheer at a basketball game in New York, and the next, we're being told she's going to die.”

In 2014, Holsworth died of complications from cancer. Payne, who was undoubtedly heartbroken, said, “Words can't express how much I already miss Lacey. She is my sister and will always be a part of my life.”

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HOW THE BASKETBALL COMMUNITY REACTED TO PAYNE'S DEATH

Following Payne's death, the basketball community paid tribute to the late star through social media posts. Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green was devastated over the loss of his close friend and was mourning privately.

NBA legend Magic Johnson revealed that he and his wife were heartbroken over Payne's passing. “Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and Spartan Nation,” Johnson said. “Adreian will be sorely missed.”

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Meanwhile, coach Tom Crean highlighted Payne's talent in the sport he loved. “Adreian Payne was not just a challenge because of his talent, length, athleticism, and toughness,” he said. “It was because his teammates absolutely loved him because of his motor and energy.”

Payne's passing comes two days after the music industry experienced a tragic loss of their own—country singer Mickey Gilley who passed away at 86.

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