Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale, the man who inspired the character Avon Barksdale on HBO’s The Wire, died in a federal prison in North Carolina on Saturday. Barksdale, 54 was serving a jail term at the time of his death. According to an official at the Butner, N.C., medical prison where he died, Barksdale passed from an undisclosed illness.
Barksdale, who was considered one of the most notorious drug kingpins in Baltimore history, rose to infamy in the 1980s selling heroin out of the city’s Murphy Homes public housing complex. After serving a 15 year prison term, he worked with the anti-violence Safe Streets program before he was arrested again in 2014 for taking part in a heroin conspiracy with members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang.
The Wire creator David Simon has said that Barksdale’s life served as inspiration for aspects of some of the show’s characters two of whom were drug kingpin Avon Barksdale, played by Wood Harris, and a dealer named Bodie Broadus played by, JD Williams.