Ex-Gangster, Inspiration for The Wire, Dies in Prison

Nathan "Bodie" Barksdale died of natural causes: Baltimore rep
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2016 5:33 AM CST
Ex-Gangster, Inspiration for The Wire , Dies in Prison
Nathan Barksdale   (YouTube)

Nathan "Bodie" Barksdale, the former Baltimore gangster who inspired characters in the HBO series The Wire, has died in a federal medical prison in North Carolina. He was 54. He was shot more than 20 times in his life and had to have his right leg amputated below the knee while running a heroin-dealing operation in Baltimore in the 1980s, but he died of natural causes on Saturday after a period of illness, a rep for the Baltimore City Health Department tells CNN. In a 2010 documentary on Barksdale's life, a narrator calls the ex-gangster "a magnet for violence" and "one of the most notorious and resilient gangster drug kingpins Baltimore has ever seen," per the Baltimore Sun.

In 1985, he was convicted of torturing three people and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He later assisted an anti-violence program in Baltimore but was arrested again in 2014. He told a judge he was addicted to heroin and running a scam to get access to the drug. He was sentenced to four more years behind bars. "There are some anecdotal connections between his story and a multitude of characters," The Wire creator David Simon said in 2014. "We mangled street and given names throughout The Wire so that it was a general shoutout to the Westside players. But there is nothing that corresponds to a specific character." Characters on the show included drug kingpin Avon Barksdale and dealer "Bodie" Broadus. (More Baltimore stories.)

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