NBA Latest: Adreian Payne, former MSU standout and Hawks 1st-round pick, dies at 31 after shooting

Adreian Payne, the former Michigan State big man and 2014 first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks, has died at age 31.

According to a press release from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, Fla., Payne was shot early Sunday morning and was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. The alleged shooter, Lawrence Dority, stayed at the scene of the crime and cooperated with police. After questioning, he was arrested and jailed on a charge of first-degree murder.

Payne, originally from Dayton, Ohio, led his high school to a division championship in his senior year before committing to Michigan State. Once at MSU, he started slow, but developed into a talented big man. He was a standout who won multiple awards, including MSU’s Scholar-Athlete Award, the team’s most improved player award (in his sophomore year), and was the recipient of the first ever Los Angeles Athletic Club Outreach Award, presented as part of the John R. Wooden Award Gala. He was also an Academic All-Big Ten honoree in his sophomore year, and Second-team All-Big Ten honoree in his junior year. He helped third-seeded Michigan State win the Big 10 Championship in 2014.

Payne was diagnosed with reduced lung capacity during his freshman year, which runs in his family. He tragically lost his mother to a severe asthma attack when he was just 13. His mother died in his arms while he was searching for her inhaler. He lost his grandmother, who became his legal guardian following his mother’s death, to asthma-related respiratory failure a few years into his college career. To deal with his condition, Payne learned how to take shorter breaths so he wouldn’t be gasping for air after just a few minutes on the court.

“I’m in shock at the tragic news of Adreian Payne’s death,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. “Our prayers are with his family, teammates and loved ones.

“Adreian was loved by his teammates and coaches, who respected his development as a player and a person. He came to Michigan State with a ton of raw talent and put in the work to reach his goal of becoming an NBA player … I’ve heard from many of those players today, each one experiencing heartbreak, and each one with their own fond memory of Adreian.”

Adreian Payne
Adreian Payne, former MSU big man and first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks, died on Sunday at 31. (Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
The NBA and beyond

After a stellar college career, Payne was picked 15th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014 draft. He spent most of his first year with the Hawks dealing with plantar fasciitis and going back and forth between the team and the NBA’s D League, until he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Feb. 2015.

He stayed with the Timberwolves through the 2016-17 season, then spent a short time with the Orlando Magic before deciding to play overseas. He began with Greek team Panathinaikos in 2018 and proceeded to move around the international pro basketball circuit. He played steadily for teams in China, France, and Turkey. His most recent team was Juventus Utena in Lithuania where he played for a few months before ending his time with the team in Feb. 2022.


Source: YAHOO

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