Nathan Barksdale, Who Inspired “The Wire” Characters, Dies


A Baltimore drug kingpin who inspired characters on the HBO drama The Wire has died while serving a term in federal prison in North Carolina.

Baltimore Health Department spokesman Sean Naron confirmed on Tuesday that 54-year-old Nathan Barksdale died in a medical prison in Butner.

Naron did not know exactly when Barksdale died, or how.

The death was first reported in The Baltimore Sun.

Barksdale, who went by the nickname Bodie, is said to be the inspiration for a few characters in The Wire, the gritty crime drama set in Baltimore.

Key characters on the series included drugs boss Avon Barksdale and a dealer named Bodie Broadus.

Barksdale ran a heroin-dealing operation in Baltimore in the 1980s, and served 15 years in state prison on a battery charge.

The Wire creator David Simon, told the Baltimore Sun in 2014 that while Barksdale inspired aspects of some characters, he was not the specific basis for the character Avon Barksdale.

“There are some anecdotal connections between his story and a multitude of characters,”

Simon said.

“We mangled street and given names throughout The Wire so that it was a general shout-out to the Westside players.

But there is nothing that corresponds to a specific character.”

In recent years, Barksdale worked with Safe Streets, an anti-violence program run by the Health Department.

In 2014, however, he pleaded guilty to participating in a drug conspiracy and was sentenced to four years.

“In real life he was one of the most notorious gangster drug kingpins Baltimore has ever seen,”

the film’s narrator says.

“He was a magnet for violence.”

Barksdale enjoyed the connection to The Wire, and in 2010, released a DVD that chronicled his life called The Avon Barksdale Story: Legends of the Unwired.

In it, he is interviewed by Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale in the show.



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