Students are accustomed to seeing the rock on Farm Lane painted over and over again by different organizations. But for nearly two weeks after the death of 8-year-old Lacey Holsworth, that routine was halted as a painted memorial in her honor with thousands of signatures was left unchanged.
A St. Johns resident, Lacey was an inspiration to the MSU basketball team and one of their star players, forward Adreian Payne who called her his adopted little sister.
The on-campus triute came to an end on Sunday night when an unknown group painted over “MSU Loves Princess Lacey” with a green message on an all white background, reading “Congratulations graduates: be a hero to someone.”
The University Activities Board, or UAB, is scheduled to paint over the rock Friday for senior week . On Monday, students speculated that it was UAB who painted over the rock, but the organization has denied any involvement in the act, announcing on their Facebook page they had nothing to do with the new message.
The rock originally was painted for Lacey by a group of students, including kinesiology junior Danielle Bott and public policy senior Brooke Corbin , the day after Lacey died. The event gave students an opportunity to sign the rock with messages to Lacey and included a singing of the alma matter by candlelight.
Nearly 1,000 people huddled together on that April night with many members of the men’s basketball program among them, including Tom Izzo, Branden Dawson and Payne .
Speculation grew as soon as the event ended about which group would be the one to paint over the rock. As the days continued, Bott said she and her friends discussed ending the speculation by painting over it themselves.
“My friends and I had discussed it so no one would have to be ‘that group,’” she said. “It was a great tribute to an inspiring little girl ... but it would have been wrong to keep it a sad story forever.”
Corbin said more important things should be considered about the tribute.
“Honestly, I am just so touched by everyone who came out to support Lacey’s family,” Corbin said. “The amount of time the rock was painted served as a wonderful memorial but the number of people that signed it, and their messages was even more significant in eyes.”
Students are somewhat divided over when an appropriate time to paint over the rock would have been.
Accounting freshman Ryan Wietchy said 11 days was enough, and that Lacey would not want the attention.
“Part of the tradition of the rock is to move on,” he said. “It’s going to happen sooner or later. People have to realize it is nothing against Lacey, it’s more of being a time to heal.”
Because it is so close to summer, electrical engineering freshman Ryan Scott said her legacy on the rock should have held out a little longer.
“I don’t know if they should have painted over it so soon,” he said. “Since it was so close to the summer time maybe they just should have left it over the summer.”