Nathan Barksdale, the former Maryland gangster who inspired characters on gritty TV drama The Wire, has died. The 54-year-old passed away in a prison hospital in Butner, North Carolina, according to The Baltimore Sun newspaper.
Barksdale, who risked his life dealing heroin in West Baltimore, was convicted of torturing three people and sentenced to 15 years behind bars in 1985. Upon his release he attempted to turn his life around but became a drug addict and became part of the Black Guerrilla Family gang. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to participating in a heroin conspiracy, and he was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison. During his life on the mean streets of Baltimore, Barksdale was reportedly shot over 20 times and his right leg was amputated at the knee.
The Wire creator David Simon, who covered Barksdale's crimes while working as a reporter, previously revealed many of his characters were based on the heroin dealer, including Avon Barksdale played by actor Wood Harris, and another late drug kingpin, Melvin Williams.