John Lex, a professional truck driver for Walmart Transportation and an America’s Road Team Captain for American Trucking Associations (ATA), lost his battle to colon cancer on Jan. 10. He was 56.
Lex was known fondly as the "selfie king" across trucking social media channels. He regularly spoke with students and adults about the impact of distracted driving as well as trucking as a career option. A longtime ambassador for the industry, Lex had been an America’s Road Team Captain since 2013, and in 2016 won the Mike Russell Trucking Image Award.
In October 2021, ATA presented its Trucking Cares Achievement Award to Lex during the Management Conference and Exhibition (MCE) in Nashville. The Trucking Cares Foundation’s Premier Achievement Award is bestowed annually to an individual or company that exemplifies trucking’s spirit of giving. In recognition of the recipient's generosity of time and money, the foundation donates to the recipient’s 501(c)(3) charity of choice (such charity shall further the foundation’s mission).
During his State of the Industry Address at MCE 2021, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear acknowledged Lex, a husband and father of two sons, for being a leader, the “first in line to help and always with a disarming smile.”
“While most of us were focused on the spread of COVID, this year’s recipient was dealing with an even bigger threat—cancer of an aggressive nature,” Spear said during MCE. “It took time to understand what could be done about it, but like our industry, he figured things out. He plotted a course and most importantly, he didn’t walk away from the fight.
“He showed us firsthand how the millions of drivers got America through this awful pandemic—they never quit,” Spear added. “Today, he is back in his cab doing what he loves most.”“I just look out here and I see so many family members,” Lex said, holding back tears during MCE 2021. “People talk to me about the trucking industry and ask me about becoming a truck driver. We are one big happy family no matter who you drive for or what position you hold. This past year and a half has just been tough. Without y'all, without your support, and without your prayers, there is no way I could have made it through here.”
Upon his passing, members of the trucking community took to social media and began an outpouring of support and love for Lex, who had 3.1 million safe-driving miles during his more than three-decade career on the road.
"John and I served on America's Road Team together,” said Gary Babbitt, consultant, driver, classroom instructor, and driver instructor for Commercial Fleet Data Systems. “He was a great husband, father, son and friend who had a servant's heart to make the world a better and safer place for all. If there's a tribute to his legacy that I may leave, it would be that he was the driver we should all aspire to be and the person we should try to emulate.”
“He was the example of excellence and dedication for Walmart Private Fleet drivers,” recalled Avry Jones, transport coordinator and customer service assistant at Walmart. “He was a great teacher to me when I started in transportation. He was also a GREAT human being.”
In an August 2020 YouTube video that Lex recorded in front of his tractor-trailer, he expressed his love for the job and for the "freedom of the highway." He provided real-world insights on the benefits of being an over-the-road truck driver.
"One of the things I love about this job is that we are always there in times of need—whether it's a natural disaster like a hurricane or a tornado, or during this COVID virus," Lex said. "We're always there; we always step up and provide everything—whether it's the food you eat, the table that you sit at, the chair you sit in, the clothes that you wear, the car that you drive, the house that you live in and all those building materials—all that stuff has been on the back of a big truck. So, we're essential workers at the least.
"Just wanted to let you know that trucking might be a career for you," Lex said in the video's conclusion with his well-known and endearing smile.