Donnie Andrews

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Donnie Andrews
Cast of The Wire - Andrews Boyd True-Frost Sohn Hector Royo.jpg
Andrews (left) with the cast of The Wire in 2011.
Born Larry Donnell Andrews
(1954-04-29)April 29, 1954
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died December 13, 2012(2012-12-13) (aged 58)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Occupation Criminal, anti-crime advocate
Spouse(s) Fran Boyd (m. 2007; his death 2012)

Larry Donnell "Donnie" Andrews (April 29, 1954 – December 13, 2012)[1] was an American criminal and anti-crime advocate. He is best known for being the inspiration for the character Omar Little on the HBO series The Wire.

Early life[edit]

Andrews grew up in a housing project in West Baltimore, Maryland. He was physically abused by his mother. At the age of nine, he witnessed a man being beaten to death over 15 cents.[2]

Life of crime[edit]

Andrews became a stickup artist who robbed drug dealers,[3] but his code of ethics included never involving women or children.[3] He was known to police for armed robbery and drug dealing in the 1970s and early 1980s in Baltimore. In 1986, local drug kingpin Warren Boardley convinced Andrews (who needed to support his heroin addiction) and Reggie Gross to take on the contract killing of Zachary Roach and Rodney "Touche" Young. Filled with guilt, Andrews surrendered himself to Ed Burns, a homicide detective with the Baltimore Police Department.[4] Working with Burns, he agreed to wear a covert listening device, which he used to implicate Boardley and Gross in the killings.[3]

Andrews was sentenced to life in prison for the two murders in 1987. He was denied parole on his first attempts, but continued to study, ended his addiction to heroin, and helped other inmates with an anti-gang workshop.[3][5]

While Andrews was in prison, Detective Burns introduced him to Fran Boyd, who was the inspiration for the character of the same name on The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, a 1997 book by Burns and David Simon. Andrews and Boyd's first conversation came in January 1993, when Boyd was still using drugs.[4] Andrews encouraged Boyd to get clean.

The Wire[edit]

By 1998, Burns and Simon, as well as the lead prosecutor who obtained Andrews' conviction, began to lobby for Andrews' release from prison.[3][5] While Andrews was in prison, David Simon sent him copies of the newspaper, and Andrews gave Simon information about crimes taking place in Baltimore. Simon named Andrews a consultant on The Wire, an HBO show about crime in Baltimore which ran from 2002–2008. Simon used Andrews as an inspiration for the character of Omar Little, a stickup artist who never targeted innocent bystanders.[3][6][7]

Andrews was released from prison in 2005.[8][9] He performed youth outreach after his release from prison. His foundation, Why Murder?, attempted to steer children away from a life of crime.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Andrews and Fran Boyd married on August 11, 2007.[5] Wedding guests included Simon and The Wire cast members Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, and Andre Royo.[4]

Death[edit]

Andrews suffered from an aortic dissection, from which he died on December 13, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. He was 58 years old.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Donnie Andrews basis for Omar of The Wire dies at 58". New York Times. December 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/an-interview-with-donnie-andrews-the-real-life-omar-little
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Fenton, Justin (December 14, 2012). "Donnie Andrews, inspiration for Omar character on "The Wire," dies". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Mallozzi, Vincent M.; Abruzzese, Sarah (August 19, 2007). "Vows: Donnie Andrews and Fran Boyd". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Urbina, Ian (August 9, 2007). "From Two Broken Lives to One New Beginning". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  6. ^ Seth Abramovitch (December 15, 2012). "Reformed Hitman Who Inspired 'The Wire's' Omar Dies at 58". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  7. ^ Kate Stanhope (December 17, 2012). "Hitman who inspired The Wire's Omar dies at 58". WMBF News. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ Evanka Williamson (December 15, 2012). "Donnie Andrews, The Real-Life Omar Little, Dies at 58". Global Grind. Retrieved December 18, 2012. 
  9. ^ Joan Jacobson (December 17, 2012). "Donnie Andrews: an appreciation of the real Omar Little". Baltimore Brew. Retrieved December 18, 2012.