The former Michigan State center, who the Atlanta Hawks selected in the first round of the 2014 draught, died suddenly at the age of 31.
Police in Orlando, Florida says Payne was shot early Monday morning and was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to a press release. Lawrence Dority, the alleged shooter, remained at the scene of the crime and cooperated with the police. First-degree murder charges were filed against him after questioning.
His senior year at Dayton High School saw him lead his team to a division championship before he made the decision to attend Michigan State. While at MSU, he started out slow but eventually blossomed into an accomplished center.
His achievements were numerous, including MSU’s Scholar-Athlete Award, the team’s Most Improved Player Award, and the first Los Angeles Athletic Club Outreach Award, which he received as part of the John R. Wooden Award Gala.
He was also a member of the team’s All-Academic team. At the end of his sophomore and junior years, he was recognized as Academic All-Big Ten as well as Second-Team All-Big Ten. During his time at Michigan State, he was instrumental in the Wolverines’ 2014 Big Ten title triumph.
Due to a genetic condition that runs in his family, Payne was diagnosed with decreased lung capacity as a freshman. When he was 13, he lost his mother to a severe asthma attack. In the midst of his search for his mother’s inhaler, his mother died.
A few years after starting college, his grandmother, who had taken over as his legal guardian after his mother’s death, died of an asthma-related respiratory failure. Payne had to learn how to take shorter breaths in order to avoid gasping for air after a few minutes on the court because of his condition.
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The National Basketball Association and Beyond
The Atlanta Hawks selected Payne with the 15th overall choice in the 2014 draught after he had an outstanding collegiate career. During his first season in the NBA
, he was plagued with plantar fasciitis and spent a lot of time between the Atlanta Hawks and the NBA’s Development League. He was dealt with the Minnesota Timberwolves in February of that year.
Through the 2016-17 season, he remained with the Minnesota Timberwolves, before briefly joining the Orlando Magic. He began his professional basketball career with Panathinaikos in 2018 and has since traveled across the world.
The player has been a consistent presence for teams in China, France, and Turkey over the past decade. In Lithuania, he played for Juventus Utena for a short time before leaving the squad in February 2022.
Friendship With a Young Cancer Patient
Among the many things people remember about Payne is his bond with Lacey Holsworth, an 8-year-old cancer patient.
basketball team made a stop at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing in 2011 when Payne ran into Lacey. Tumors in her spine and abdomen had rendered her immobile after she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Lacey and Payne became friends after exchanging texts back and forth for a while. MSU’s Big Ten championship win in 2014 was a highlight of his senior year, and he walked her onto the court to celebrate with her.
Lacey had a significant impact on Payne’s life even after her death from cancer on April 8, 2014. Stay tuned with us for more such content only on leedaily.com