Donnie Andrews, the man who inspired the iconic character, Omar, on HBO’s The Wire has died, he was 58. Andrews passed away in New York City after undergoing emergency heart surgery, Thursday (Dec. 13).
Known as a “reformed” criminal, Andrews created the nonprofit Why Murder? to counsel inner city youth and gang members. “He’s a wonderful human being, and he had an important story of redemption,” said colleague, Michael Millemann.
David Simon, creator of The Wire, noted Andrews as the inspiration for the character, played by Michael K. Williams, and hired him as a writer on the show. “They made Omar exactly the way I was,” Andrews said in a previous interview. “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.”
Throughout his criminal career, Andrews robbed drug dealers on the west side of Baltimore, and served 18 years in prison. He met his wife, Fran Boyd, while incarcerated, and tied the knot in 2005. Boyd, a former heroin addict was the focus of the book, The Corner, penned by David Simon.
Her son, Deandre McCullough, died from drug overdose in August.