Donnie Andrews, the Baltimore gangster behind the Omar Little character on The Wire, died today in New York city after he suffered a heart attack, according to The Baltimore Sun. He was 58 years old.
Andrews grew up on the West Side of Baltimore and made a living robbing drug dealers. He served 18 years on a murder charge before he was let out on parole in 2005.
While serving his time, Andrews met a heroin addict by the name of Fran Boyd, who became the subject of the book The Corner, written by David Simon.
Andrews says his character in The Wire was spot on in an interview with Vice magazine. ”They made Omar exactly the way I was,” Andrews said. “David [Simon] wrote ‘The West Side Story’ [the initial Baltimore Sun article about Donnie] after my conviction in ’86 and they basically had everything down-pat. The gay part they took from a guy called Billy Outlaw, he was a gay stick-up guy.”
After his jail sentence Andrews turned his life around and started a nonprofit organization called “Why Murder?,” offering counseling to gang members and inner-city children.
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