Man Who Inspired Characters From The Wire Dies in Federal Prison

Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale is the Baltimore gangster who was the inspiration behind some of The Wire’s characters.

Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale in The Wire, interviews Nathan Barksdale.
Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale in The Wire, interviews Nathan Barksdale. YouTube screenshot

Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale lived the life that people spent hours in front of the television watching when HBO’s The Wire was on the air. The show, which ended its run in 2008, is still considered some of the best television ever made, even in its gritty depiction of drugs, gangs and the seedy side of Baltimore.

Barksdale was the notorious gangster who inspired some of David Simon’s characters from the HBO show. And on Saturday, at the age of 54, Barksdale died in a federal medical prison in North Carolina, according to the Baltimore Sun.

In the 1980s, Barksdale was a heroin dealer in Baltimore’s Murphy Homes projects. He lost his leg after being shot 20 times and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of torturing three people.

Although Barksdale attempted to clean up his life by volunteering around Baltimore and working with the Safe Streets program, he ended up back in jail in 2014 after being caught up in a Drug Enforcement Administration wiretap investigation.

Barksdale was sentenced to four years in federal prison, where he would end up living the last moments of his life. Prison officials said that Barksdale died of natural causes but did not release any other details about his death.

In the video below, Barksdale and Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale, discuss his life in and out of prison.