(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Adreian Payne, a former first-round NBA draft pick and star collegiate basketball player at Michigan State, was shot and killed early Monday in Orlando, Florida, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Payne was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks at No. 15 overall in 2014 and played for the Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic during a five-year NBA career.
He was 31 years old.
The former player was shot at a home in Orlando at about 1:30 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The suspect shooter, Lawrence Dority, 29, stayed at the scene after the shooting and was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder, the sheriff’s office said. He is being held at Orange County Jail.
The sheriff’s office does not have a motive for the shooting.
Payne won over hearts during the 2014 NCAA Tournament by befriending a young girl fighting cancer named Lacey Holsworth. Payne met the 8-year-old, who was battling neuroblastoma, on a team visit to a local hospital several years earlier and struck up a friendship. When the Michigan State Spartans won the Big Ten title in 2014, Payne let her cut down the net.
Holsworth died of cancer on April 8, 2014 — just three weeks after the Spartans won the conference title.
After his five years in the NBA, Payne had a successful career playing in Europe. The 6-foot-10 center played in Greece, China, France, Turkey and Lithuania. He won a Greek league title with powerhouse Panathinaikos in 2018 and French league team ASVEL in 2019. ASVEL posted a photo of him holding the championship trophy on Twitter and called the news “terribly shocking.”
Payne played for Juventus Utena, in Lithuania, as recently as February.
“So sad to hear that former Michigan State star Adreian Payne passed away at the age of 31,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas wrote on Twitter. “AP was an outstanding player for Tom Izzo, and befriended Lacey Holsworth through her battle with cancer. RIP Adreian Payne.”
Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green, who was a teammate of Payne at Michigan State, posted several broken heart emojis on Monday morning.
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