Inspiration For ‘The Wire’s’ Omar, Donnie Andrews, Dies

Donnie Andrews, a reputed Baltimore stick-up artist who became the inspiration for The Wire’sOmar Little, one of the most popular characters in television history, has died. He was 58.

Michael Millemann, Andrews’ former attorney, said that he died on Thursday in New York after he had undergone emergency surgery for a rupture of his aorta. He was in the City as part of efforts to promote a non-profit outreach foundation.

Sonja Sohn, who starred in the show and worked alongside him with the foundation stated, “Donnie was truly a rare bird, a fierce street warrior who had been to hell and back and lived not only to talk about it but to transform that pain and darkness into the brightest of lights, infused with the love he had for youth and communities suffering from the injustices of that life, often times, unfairly doles out to those born with the short end of the stick.”

Andrews, who made his living robbing drug dealers on Baltimore’s west side, had previously spent 18 years in prison for a murder he had committed on behalf of a another criminal. Andrews lived by his own code and would never involve women or children his crimes

Andrews and The Wire’s creator David Simon, struck up a friendship after Simon would ring him up in prison asking for crime news when he worked for The Baltimore Sun. Andrews was released in 2005 because of lobbying from Simon and various other supporters, before going on to write for the show, and play a small role.