COMPTON — The unexpected death of acclaimed actor Michael K. Williams sent shockwaves throughout the country this week. His death was especially felt in the city of Compton where his twin sister is a member of the City Council.
“Our family has been shaken to the core of the loss of our Mike,” Councilwoman Michelle Chambers said in a statement issued Sept. 7. “Thank you to everyone who contacted us, flooded us with love, and more importantly, prayers. I will miss my brother, my best friend and birthday partner in this realm, but I know he will continue to watch over me and our family in heaven as he did on earth.”
Williams, known for his role as Omar Little from the hit HBO series “The Wire,” was found dead in his New York apartment Sept. 6. He was 54.
An official cause of death has not been released, but police indicated he may have died from a drug overdose, according to reports out of New York. Williams, who also appeared in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and “Boardwalk Empire,” has been open in recent years about his struggles with drug addiction.
Many remember his being about the community and his involvement in social justice reform and recidivism, which is also a passion of his sister.
“He is amazingly talented and such a good brother, and was clearly about the community,” said Rashidi Harper, executive producer of Hip Hop Uncovered.
Aside from acting, Williams enjoyed a full career which included choreographing countless music videos, and his acting career is credited due to a chance encounter with the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
One of Williams’ last public appearances was at the memorial service of rapper Earl “DMX” Simmons.
His death prompted an outpouring of grief from Hollywood and beyond.
Actor Edward Norton wrote on Twitter that he felt “punched in the gut” by Williams’ death.
“Getting to work with him was one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in my career,” Norton said. “My admiration for his talent was boundless, like so many. If we was in a scene he was the best thing about it. Period.”
“The Wire” creator David Simon wrote that he was “too gutted right now to say all that ought to be said. Michael was a fine man and a rare talent and on our journey together he always deserved the best words. And today those words won’t come.”
The city of Compton released a statement on the passing of Chamber’s brother, with her colleagues expressing their condolences during the Sept. 7 City Council meeting.
“On behalf of the entire city of Compton, we offer our deepest condolences to Councilwoman Michelle Chambers and her entire family, as they grieve the loss of her brother, actor Michael K. Williams.”
Plans have not been made public on services.
Williams is survived by his son, Elijah.
City News Service contributed to this story.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.