April 11, 2014
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Los Angeles Athletic Club will present its first-ever Outreach Award to Michigan State senior basketball player Adreian Payne as part of the 38th Annual Wooden Award Gala presented by Wendy’s. The event also honors the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, and includes the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, this year given to Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.
Payne is attending the Wooden Award Gala to receive the Award as planned, despite the passing of Holsworth late Tuesday evening. The private friendship he developed with the eight-year-old girl from St. Johns, Michigan, stricken with neuroblastoma two years ago, became a nationwide story as news of it spread beyond East Lansing this season. After meeting at a team hospital visit in January of 2012, just months after Payne lost the grandmother who raised him, Payne gave Holsworth the gift of his time and his commitment. In return, he learned so much from her. They became like brother and sister. Payne called his relationship with Holsworth “a gift from God.” He brought her to games for the last two years, texted and tweeted with her daily, took her out onto the court at Michigan State’s Senior Day and the Big Ten Tournament this year, joined her at the team’s banquet, and even had her accompany him to last week’s Slam Dunk contest at the Final Four in Dallas.
Mark Llewellyn, the son of Richard “Duke” Llewellyn, who founded the Wooden Award along with Coach John Wooden, will present Payne with the Outreach Award. The elder Llewellyn, who passed away at 93 in 2010, was well known over his 70-year sports career in Los Angeles for breaking barriers through sports and friendship, including making the unpopular decision at the time, in his role with the Parks and Recs Department in Los Angeles, to work with former Japanese internees after World War II so that they had a place to play basketball. His relationship with the Japanese-American community continued throughout his rich life, which included working with boxing, tennis, and the 1984 Olympic Games.
A memorial service will take place for Holsworth on April 17 at 6:30 p.m., appropriately at Michigan State’s Breslin Center, a place where the beautiful and wise girl spent so much treasured time with her “Superman.” To help the Holsworth Family with the medical expenses for this brave, inspiring young girl, go to www.Giveforward.com and enter #KISSITCANCER in the “Find a fundraiser” window.