Dozens of Michigan State students and community members gathered around "the Rock" near the campus auditorium Wednesday evening to remember Lacey Holsworth.

Among them was Tom Izzo, who joined many others in signing the rock, which had been painted in honor of the 8-year-old St. Johns girl who died late Tuesday.

Speaking emotionally and fighting back tears, Izzo delivered a heartfelt tribute to the little girl who became part of the MSU basketball family and inspiration to countless people across the country.

"When you do things like this and come out like you have for someone most of you didn't know--I just want to tell you how proud I am that you're all Spartans," Izzo told the crowd, his voice cracking with emotion," and that your prayers will be with her, her parents couldn't thank you enough for what you've done.

"She's been an inspiration to all of us, and those of you who didn't get to know her I can only tell you that her message that should be sent is don't ever give up on anything, don't ever quit. When you face some tough times, like all of us will, just keep fighting through it."

Holsworth came to know Payne and become part of the MSU basketball family beginning with a hospital visit by the Spartan basketball players some years ago. She developed a close bond with Spartan big man Adreian Payne. The two became like brother and sister, with “Princess Lacey,” as she was called, joining Payne on the court for senior day ceremonies after MSU beat Iowa on March 6, cutting down the nets with Payne at the Big Ten tournament and even cheering him on from the sidelines at the college basketball dunk contest last week.

Holsworth's story went beyond MSU to the state as a whole and then the entire country this year, her inextinguishable spirit in the face of dire circumstances inspiring to so many.

"This little girl, she wasn't that big, she wasn't that strong, but she sure was powerful, wasn't she?" Izzo said.

Watch Izzo's remarks in full below: