Early Monday morning, former Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne was killed in a suburban neighborhood right outside of Orlando, Florida. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Orange County Sherriff’s Office says it received a call at 1:37 a.m. and was notified that a man was shot at the Econ Landing townhouses. Payne was then taken to a local hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead. The alleged suspect in the case, 29-year-old Lawrence Dority, stayed on the scene, and he reportedly remained cooperative with law enforcement as he was apprehended for the charge of first-degree murder.
Payne, 31, joined Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans in 2010 and played four years in the frontcourt for the legendary college coach. The 6-foot-10 Dayton, OH native was then picked as the 15th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He enjoyed a brief four-year career in the NBA before exiting the league in 2018 and finishing his pro hoops career overseas.
Payne’s good-naturedness won him many fans over the years, and the most unforgettable memories of Payne surround his friendship with an 8-year-old cancer patient named Lacey Holsworth. She was a reported inspiration for him and the Spartans during Payne’s final year with Michigan State. He brought Holsworth onto the court after his squad defeated their longstanding state rivals, the Wolverines, to win the 2014 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The story of Payne and Holsworth garnered nationwide media attention throughout the Spartans’ NCAA tournament run that year, which ended at the Elite Eight with a loss to the Connecticut Huskies. Holsworth died a few weeks later, and Payne said she was his “sister” and “will always be a part of [his] life.”
This past September, Payne announced that he was stepping away from the court to tend to his 4-year-old son, Amari. “As much as I would love to be somewhere playing basketball,” he tweeted, “my family comes first… Basketball has my heart, Amari has my heartbeat.”
Numerous personalities from the basketball world are expressing their grief regarding Payne’s shooting, especially the MSU Spartan family. 3x NBA champion Draymond Green played alongside Payne for two years in The Great Lakes State, and he tweeted four broken heart emojis today in remembrance of his fellow Spartan. Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, who played for MSU from 2016 to 2018, posted his own broken heart emoji for his fallen slum.
And Earvin “Magic” Johnson, one of the greatest basketball players ever, also posted his own broken heart emoji to social media with the following message: “Cookie and I are heartbroken to hear that former Spartan Adreian Payne has passed away. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and Spartan Nation! Adreian will be sorely missed.”