Ex-NBA, Michigan State center Adreian Payne dead at 31

Adreian Payne, a big man who starred at Michigan State and played four seasons in the NBA, died at 31.

Chris Solari, who covers Michigan State for the Detroit Free Press, confirmed the news.

Payne’s cause of death has not been released.

The Ohio native played at Michigan State under Tom Izzo from 2010-14. Payne was Second-Team All Big Ten in his junior and senior seasons. During his final campaign with the Spartans, he entered the season on the Wooden and Naismith award watch-lists and proceeded to average 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Payne and Michigan State won Big Ten tournament titles in 2012 and 2014.

Adreian Payne, who starred at Michigan State and befriended the late Lacey Holsworth, has died at 31.
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Adrian Payne
After his stint in the NBA. Payne played overseas in Greece, China and Lithuania.
Euroleague Basketball via Getty

The former Spartan gained national notoriety when he befriended Lacey Holsworth, a young girl who inspired Michigan State’s basketball team before succumbing to nervous system cancer at eight years old in 2014.

“She helped me in a lot of ways,” Payne, who called her “Princess Lacey,” said at the time. “Me being able to spend time with her, take my mind off basketball, that’s good when you can do that.”

That year, Payne was selected 15th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks.

During his four seasons in the NBA, Payne also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic. After leaving the NBA after the 2017-18 season, Payne played internationally in Greece, China and Lithuania.

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