DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — Silas Alexander IV realizes the legacy his father left behind. During an interview with 11Alive, Alexander--who goes by Lex--wore custom-made purple sneakers, a purple wristband and a sweatshirt with a purple ribbon.
Lex dons purple to honor his father, Silas Alexander III, who was affectionately known as SiMan Baby. SiMan, an iconic radio host in Atlanta, spent decades in the entertainment industry. He died Tuesday night of pancreatic cancer at the age of 58.
"Growing up, people always told me my dad was a celebrity," Lex said. "I never viewed him that way, and I don’t think he viewed himself that way. He was so humble, down to earth, and he cared so much about his community.”
SiMan was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in July 2021 following gallbladder surgery. A sudden loss of weight prompted concern within the family. SiMan's cousin Gary Mitchell, another Atlanta-area radio host who went by Mix Master Mitch, lost his life to pancreatic cancer in December. SiMan's father also lost his life to the disease.
"Pancreatic cancer rates are increasing," Dr. Bill Cance, chief medical and scientific officer with the American Cancer Society said. "We predict they’ll account for three-percent of cancer cases nationwide in 2022, but eight-percent of cancer deaths.”
Cance said pancreatic cancer symptoms include unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, yellow skin, dark-colored urine and jaundice.
"Pancreatic cancer remains a big challenge to diagnose, detect early and effectively treat," Cance said. "Talk to your primary care doctor about any symptoms you might have, risk factors and in rare cases there are genetic tests.”
"Pancreatic cancer has affected this family in a lot of ways, but if we sat down and marinated on that, we would be miserable," Lex said. "My dad taught us to be positive, see the best in things, appreciate life more than anything.”
One of SiMan's favorite phrases was "stay positive," which his son remembers as a life calling. SiMan was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame and received honors from the Trumpet Awards and the City of Atlanta. Despite winning numerous awards, achieving success in the radio industry and making countless connections, Lex said his dad made him and everyone he met feel special.
"Even when things seem the darkest, there’s always some form of light there," Lex said. "I think he was great at finding something positive about any situation, and it taught me growing up to never look at life as the worst or think of the worst of things – but to try and find the best in life itself, find the best in people."
Joyce Littel worked with SiMan for nearly 40 years. The two met in Athens, Ga. and continued to climb the ranks of radio. Littel said SiMan was like a little brother to her and impacted her entire career.
“From an industry standpoint, he was always willing to help advance your career," Littel said. "He wasn’t worried about his, but helping advancing your career. When he turned the radio on and told you this is SiMan Baby, telling you the weather, he was saying that to help someone else. It wasn’t to help him.”
Littel said SiMan had a positive impact on listeners and never knew a stranger.
"They knew that his spirit, his positive energy would spill over into them and just make their day a brighter day," Littel said. “Whatever time you tuned in, you were going to be inspired. You were going to be uplifted, because that’s just the kind of dude he was.”
Now a civil engineer, Lex said his focus would turn toward raising more awareness for pancreatic cancer. While he might not have his dad or cousin around, he will always remember the impact they had on him and their community.
“We look just alike, looks like I stole his face," Lex said. "I’m blessed to look in the mirror every day and feel like my dad is right there with me.”