The basketball world has been stunned by the sudden death of Payne, who starred under Tom Izzo from 2011-2014 and went on to play in the NBA.

Payne Was Known For His Charity As Well As His Basketball Skills

A gentle giant, known for his kind heart and friendship with a little girl battling cancer has been killed in Florida.

Former Ohio AAU and NBA teammate Jared Sullenger announced Payne's death on Twitter this morning, he provided no details on the passing, but sources have now confirmed he was killed in a shooting incident in Orange County, Florida.

Payne was a 6-10 athlete from Dayton, Ohio when he was recruited to play for the Spartans in 2010. According to Wikipedia, he was diagnosed with permanent reduced lung capacity after his first season in East Lansing, an ailment which affected his stamina.

He was one of the favorites for the Wooden Award as college basketball's best player at the beginning of his senior season at State in 2014, but an ankle injury kept him from winning it.

He was probably best known for his friendship with a young cancer patient, eight-year-old Lacey Holsworth during that 2014 season. He called her his little sister, and she referred to him as her brother.

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Lacey accompanied Payne to his senior night game, and then helped him cut down the nets when the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament title in Indianapolis that season. She passed away shortly after on April 8, 2014.

Payne Played Four Seasons In The NBA

Payne was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014 draft, and also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic (owned by Grand Rapids resident Rich DeVos) in his NBA career.

He would later play overseas in Greece, China, Turkey and France before signing with Juventus Utena of the Lithuanian League this past 2022 season. He averaged 8.6 points per game for them and left the team in February.

Payne Electrified The Breslin Center With Back To Back Dunks In 2014

In addition to his stellar play with the Spartans, Payne also earned All-Academic honors with MSU in his sophomore season. A video of Payne slamming home back-to-back dunks against conference rival Ohio State at the Breslin Center in January 2014 went viral and became proof that Payne was still a force on the floor.

This is how I will always remember Payne...

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How to Be a Gracious Spartan Host When Your Wolverine Friend Visits East Lansing

If you're a Spartan who has some Wolverine loved ones in their life, here are some sure-fire tips on how to make sure they feel the love, even if our team is kicking their team's butt. With just a few well-placed welcoming touches, your Maize & Blue friend will certainly feel at home.