SAN ANTONIO – It’s almost impossible to miss -- the larger-than-life painting that seems to jump out from the wall of a graffiti covered building near Interstate 35 and San Pedro Avenue.
It features the portrait of a man wearing sunglasses, his head shaved bald, and offering up a hand gesture.
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The letters on either side of the image simply say, “RIP MIG,” with the years of his birth and death.
As it turns out, there is a whole story behind it regarding the life that was lived and lost, and the love a friend had for him.
“MIG,” refers to Miguel Silva, a man who made an unforgettable impression on those around him as well as on the local music scene.
“We were real close. I was very protective of him, you know, growing up,” said his older brother, Daniel Silva. “He would always walk into a room and everybody noticed him. He would just, kind of, brighten the room.”
What Daniel Silva described as his brother’s “charisma” seemed to work on people all over.
No matter where he went, he never met a stranger, Daniel Silva said.
Miguel Silva later continued winning over people from the stage, as a rapper known as M. I. G. and a founding member of the group, The Hooligan Boyz.
“I just remember seeing him as a kid writing down lyrics in his spiral notebook,” his brother said. “He definitely was representing San Antonio. He was proud to be from here. So if you listen to his music you could hear all about, you know, from San Antonio.”
It was while he was at musical gig in Corpus Christi in 2014 that Miguel died in what his family says was “an accident.”
“It was very shocking. We did lose somebody really, really big in our family,” Daniel Silva said.
One of Miguel’s closest friends came up with an idea to honor him in a big way.
Nick Shan, who also was his neighbor, decided to memorialize him in a mural painted in a place they both held dear.
“This was our connection, this building. So whenever he passed away I had to get tribute paid,” he said.
Shan turned to another friend to bring that dream to life.
Haider “Banks” Rashid says he gladly accepted the challenge, which involved conceptualizing and painting the mural under the strictest of deadlines.
He had less than 24 hours to do it.
“We started about four in the morning, something like that, and I think we had to be done by noon,” Rashid said.
The reason for the rush was that Shan wanted to unveil the mural to M. I. G.’s family immediately after his funeral.
“At the beginning it was just, like, a cool challenge and then it turned into something real deep,” Rashid says.
The finished product, he says, exceeded his expectations.
It left Daniel Silva and his family speechless.
“I mean, it really got us in our heart that people would want to put up a mural of him,” Silva said.
Even after seven years, the mural still stands –untouched by the graffiti that surrounds it.
Shan says he believes it’s a testimony to the impression that Miguel Silva made on the community and the respect that people still have for him.