DeAndre McCullough (1977-2012)

03 Aug
August 3, 2012

To remember him as we met him, twenty years ago, is to know everything that was lost, everything that never happened to a boy who could surprise you with his charm and wit and heart.

At fifteen, he was selling drugs on the corners of Fayette Street, but that doesn’t begin to explain who he was.  For the boys of Franklin Square — too many of them at any rate — slinging was little more than an adolescent adventure, an inevitable rite of passage.  And whatever sinister vision you might conjure of a street corner drug trafficker, try to remember that a fifteen-year-old slinger is, well, fifteen years old.

He was funny.  He could step back from himself and mock his own stances — “hard work,” he would say when I would catch him on a drug corner, “hard work being a black man in America.”  And then he would catch my eye and laugh knowingly at his presumption.  His imitations of white-authority voices — social workers, police officers, juvenile masters, teachers, reporters — were never less than pinpoint, playful savagery.  The price of being a white man on Fayette Street and getting to know DeAndre McCullough was to have your from-the-other-America pontifications pulled and scalpeled apart by a manchild with an uncanny ear for hypocrisy and cant.

He could be generous, and loyal. I remember him rushing out before Christmas to spend his corner money on gifts for his brother, nieces and nephews — knowing that his mother wasn’t going to get it done that year. I remember the moments of quiet affection he demonstrated when his mother was at her lowest ebb, telling her gently that she was better than this, that she could rise again. And, too, I remember his stoic, certain forgiveness of his father, who moved wraith-like around those same corners, lost in an addiction he could never defeat.

“I really feel like he’s at peace now,” DeAndre said after Gary’s funeral, explaining that his father was too gentle for the corners, too delicate a soul to be out there along Fayette Street. His father was never going to be what he was. Not ever again.  DeAndre said this with no malice, in a voice that was as loving as any words I ever heard him speak.

At first, he was content with the book we wrote about his world.  By the time “The Corner” was published it was something of an epitaph for people who were already casualties.  Not just DeAndre’s father, but Boo, Bread, Fat Curt, his cousin Dinky, Miss Ella from the rec center.  The book was an argument that these lives were not without meaning, that they, too, were complete human beings in the balance.  He liked that someone — anyone — thought the people of Fayette Street mattered.

In time, though, he confessed to hating the last line of the narrative, the one in which he is defined as a street dealer and addict at the moment after taking his first adult charge in a raid on a stash house on South Gilmor Street.  There was a burden in that, and he grew tired of its weight.

“That isn’t the end of the story,” he complained to me years later.  “You don’t know that the story ends that way.”

I readily conceded that he was correct, that the story was ongoing and that a new ending could and would be fashioned if he provided such.  By then, his mother had cleaned herself up, moved the family to the county, doing her damnedest to shepherd his young brother, and all of his nieces and nephews to adulthood, to gainful employment or college admissions.  The mother of DeAndre’s son had a master’s degree, in fact, and was thrice-promoted at the downtown hospital where she made a career. Even Blue, whose childhood home was the shooting gallery, had more than a decade clean and was spending what remained of his days counseling others out of addiction.

“If you give me another ending, Dre. I’ll write it. I promise. In a new edition, in a magazine article, anywhere I can. I’ll write that fucking story so hard.”

“Wait on it then. You gonna see.”

He went to work for the television shows, time and again lasting only as long as a paycheck or two.  He enjoyed acting, and showed some poise, but the jobs that offered the chance at a real career — the behind-the-camera production work, the path to union wages and benefits — those couldn’t hold him.  Several months ago, desperate to get out of Baltimore and to walk away from his ever-more exhausting addictions, he asked for one more chance.   He would get clean.  He would do what needed doing.  And so, we rented him an apartment in New Orleans and a gave him a position with the security crew for Treme.  His sobriety lasted until the first payday, and by Thanksgiving, ever more angry at himself and depressed, he asked me for a ticket back to Baltimore.  New Orleans wasn’t working; there were corners here, too, and he was lonely.  His plan, he said, was to see if he could get his job back at Mountain Manor.

It was there that DeAndre found some time to shine.  He worked as a peer counselor for court-ordered juveniles in the Mountain Manor residences.   He knew those kids, and he knew the street, and so, he actually had the skill set to bring some truth into the room.  He lasted two years — longer than any other gig in his life — before he again faltered.

I saw him on Christmas. We embraced. New Orleans went unmentioned.

On his birthday in May, I got a text:  “Hey, Dave.  Wassup.  I’m 35 today.  Never thought I’d make it.  How ’bout that?”

I texted him back: “Happy Birthday, Dre.”

By then, I knew he was again struggling, unable to outrun the demons.  A couple weeks ago, there was a photograph on the Baltimore Police Department’s webpage: An unidentified young man photographed during the robbery of a Pratt Street pharmacy. He claimed to have a gun, but offered only a note. He wanted not money, but drugs, and he left with pills. The photo was DeAndre.  Hollow-eyed, dusty — but, clearly, DeAndre.

Fran was horrified. This crossed a line in a way that was genuinely unlike her oldest son. He had lived his life doing great damage to himself, obliterating the bright-eyed manchild one dose at a time. In truth, I never saw a drug addict so unhappy to be high. When DeAndre was chasing, he was miserable and angry and ashamed, with every better angel of his nature buried beneath an ash-heap of resentment and self-loathing. When he sobered, you knew it immediately; DeAndre emerged, playful and self-aware and once again open to the world and other people. And always, in the past, the damage had been confined to himself and those who loved him.

This was new and ugly. Fran confronted him, telling him he needed to turn himself in to police, that he had gone too far, that he had truly lost himself this time. DeAndre pleaded for the chance to get clean first, to sober up before surrendering and going to City Jail. He did not want to detox in pretrial detention; he couldn’t stomach the thought of being sick in those spartan, unforgiving surroundings.  Once sober, he would surrender, and he asked his mother to ask me if I would go with him to court.  Ask him yourself, Fran told him.  Can’t, he told her.  I’m ashamed.

I told her to tell DeAndre that I would, of course, stand with him in court, but only if he surrendered himself. I told myself that even now, the end of the story hasn’t yet been written. Maybe this was a true bottom. Maybe some prison time could pull him from the spiral; nothing else seemed to work, after all.

Fran relented, drove him to Tuerk House, where he cleaned up for the last time and then discharged himself. He did not immediately surrender. Instead, a few days later, he took more pills until he fell over dead in a house in Woodlawn. This morning, when the police came to the county looking for him with a warrant, they learned that they were a day late, that DeAndre McCullough was beyond their powers of arrest.

If I close my eyes, the fifteen year old comes to me. His laughter, his wit, his foolishness and ridiculous rationalization mixed in equal measure with his goodness and honesty. I can forgive the addict who came to dominate that young life. I can let go of all the frustration and exhaustion that came with twenty years of faithlessness and hurt. I see, in the end, a man who was in great, unending pain. And I want him to rest now.

In spite of everything, I will miss him badly. I know because I’ve been here before. With Dinky. And Curt. And Ella. And Gary — especially Gary McCullough, the wounded father who in some awful way was a pathfinder for his wounded son.  When you tell yourself you are going to write a story about real people, you say so in the abstract, without any real sense of the beings you haven’t yet met, without any measure of the real cost of addressing actual human realities.

Well then, amid all of the easy labels and stereotypes that will now certainly apply, let me offer only the following:  I once had the privilege to know a boy named DeAndre McCullough, who at the age of fifteen had led a life of considerable deprivation, but who nonetheless was the fine and fascinating measure of a human soul. Everything after, even the very book that we wrote about his world, today seems like useless and unimportant commentary.

Be free, Dre.

 

 

 

 

 

200 replies
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  1. steven zhou says:

    Always wondered what ended up happening.

    A deeply, deeply moving story. Very tragic.

    no need to post

    Reply
  2. Dave Smith says:

    I found “the corner” to be devestating and inspiring at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about it. For DeAndre to finally succumb to addiction and pass is the cruellest twist of fate, I don’t believe in heaven but sure hope he is in a better place now, able to be the man he truelly was but could never be.
    To all his loved ones, he is gone yes and only time can heal that pain, but feel blessed to have the memories of him. I wish I could have met this man who fought through so much adversity, who lived through so much deprivation and fought the worst of demons but still had a true heart full of love for those he knew. Take joy from the time you had.
    Rest in Peace DeAndre, and also Gary, I really know nothing about the real you but I will never forget you.

    Reply
  3. K says:

    Mr. Simon,

    I am a newcomer to the world of “The Wire” and “The Corner,” but can tell you that I am now an ardent fan of your work, both written and televised. Having grown up with an addicted parent and a mother who worked at a drug rehab facility in Newark, I have found your work about the war on drugs and the life of addicts extremely moving and want to thank you for your great body of work. I just finished “The Corner” this week and googled all of the characters so I could get a more complete picture of their progress, and came across this article about DeAndre. My heart goes out to him and his family – I’ve never met any of them but your book has made them an almost tangible presence in my life. Also, I now do legal work for social services in NJ and your work has brought me to a whole new level of compassion for those I encounter through my job, and to be honest, a lot of frustration with a system that dooms many to failure.

    Thank you again for your great work and this touching tribute.

    Reply
  4. Diana T. says:

    Mr. Simon, thank you for giving us a glimpse into these people’s lives. I wanted to watch The Corner with my husband because we had just viewed The Wire and fell in love with the entire series. While we expected to be entertained, we were not. We were emotionally invested in these people and I had to google and find out what they were doing now and it breaks my heart because I had high hopes for Dre. Ms. Ella was a true gem, and I believe she died from a broken heart. Blue passed on, but in peace I hope. Gary’s story hurt the most becaise I just wanted him to get off the dope. He was so smart and brilliant, it was just a huge waste of potential and sad to watch. These characters have changed my life and their endings have broken my heart… I will never forget any of them. Gary and Fran failed Dre in a lot of ways, but I was shocked when he decided to try the hard stuff. I don’t know… this is the reality of the streets and it is ugly. I am going to read your book and I just say thank you again for giving these people, people who would normally be forgotten about in alleys and vacant houses, a voice and a chance for redemption.

    Reply
  5. Tamika says:

    So sorry to hear about Deandre. I remember seeing this mini series years ago when it first came on HBO, it touched me back then.Also happened to see it a few weeks ago One thing that I could never shake that really got to me was that very last episode, when Deandre was on the corner by himself, late night, pulled the capsule out of his pocket and actually tried the drug for the first time. I was just shouting at the TV NOOOO!!! NOOO!!! NOOOO!! NOOOO!!! I knew right then and there that that young mans life would never be the same. I guess I just couldnt understand why he would want to even try it, seeing what it had put his mother through, and father, but also everyone in his community, his surroundings. Seems like his friend Boo was already an addict himself by the last episode. So sadden to hear about Blue as well. Watching the last episode when the real individuals came out and talked I knew that he would be just fine, Hoping the Deandre would have a happy ending like his mother. Another thing that I wondered about as well was Deandre’s oldest son by Tyreeka. Im sure he’s a grown man now.Not much coverage with him. Is he still around, hopefully he hasnt gone down that path of destruction. I really appreciate the work that you put into “The Corner”. Its heart-felt, heart-breaking but of all, so realistic of the world that we live in today.

    Reply
  6. Donell Doyce says:

    Hey David,

    Are you still in touch with W. M. McCullough, De’Andre’s grandfather?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      I am not, regrettably. Mr. McCullough and his late wife were unhappy with the book when it was finally published. Not for anything in particular so much as the general discomfort of having Gary’s story told publicly. It is a divided verdict as far as the project is concerned, in retrospect. Some of Gary’s siblings have told me privately that they respect and value the narrative, and our purpose in telling the story. Others remain quite unhappy, specifically because the book notes some of Gary’s own resentments with certain siblings, albeit told through Gary’s subjective point of view, of course.

      Charitably and genuinely, it would be hard for any family to read the narrative of Gary McCullough’s last years and be entirely comfortable about everything, and so, I respect what displeasure has been expressed. But of course I stand by the story, our purposes in telling the story, and I hold the McCullough family as a whole — and W.M. in particular — in the highest regard, as does Ed Burns.

      Reply
      • Kimberly says:

        Mr. Simon,

        I was just wondering if this type of family divide was something that you expected or did it come as a surprise? I do understand how it would be difficult for family members given the subject matter.

        As a fan I certainly loved the story that was told. As a writer, did you expect that some family members would be displeased?

        I have seen where you have spoke of Gary McCullough as someone you truly cared about and got to know through your research.

        Has this changed your attitude about telling stories about people’s lives?

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          If you make everyone happy with everything you write, you are not doing the work of journalism. Best you can do is be honest and treat everyone with respect, and when people are unhappy, to not take that personally. It is sad sometimes if you genuinely like or care for the person — and with narrative journalism I do believe that you need to begin from a position of basic empathy with the people that you choose to follow and portray. But the outcome is not for you to control. You serve the story and you try to make the story as honest an explication of what people went through, and thought and did as you can.

          Not all of the detectives liked everything I wrote about them in that book, either. I am still good friends with some, I am friendly with others. And some had residual distaste for me or the process. But I followed the story where it seemed to lead.

          Reply
          • Hakeemah says:

            Mr. Simon I want to first say that You are an incredible writer! I was 14 years old when I first saw the corner. I’m now 27. It touch me then and it touch and open my eyes even more to see it now . I feel that deandre was so many things such a wonderful young man . He was so alone and had such a big responsibilty at a young age that I feel that it was just to much to handle we all need someone to pick us up when we are down . And to be in an environment that he was in and was unable to excape it… Can’t move forward … The struggle was just to much for him to handle ..his only excape was drugs he had no outlet … At least that’s what I no he felt… And to no that he is dead it hurt me like I lost a friend. I was hoping he beat the family addiction but instead he feel victim to this nasty scary devil call drugs.. In sha Allah his at peace .. RIP Andre thanks for allowing the world to see your story!

            Reply
  7. Anthony says:

    I am wondering if anyone here knew/knows Ronnie Boice and what happened to her after the book and show? I’ve always wondered about her and how she really looks.

    Reply
    • Kimberly says:

      I do not know what happened to her but I believe she had a small cameo in the final epsiode of “The Corner”.

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        I know that Ms. Boice is still with us, and sometimes I hear that she is doing okay and sometimes less so. I am in touch with her daughter, who is doing well.

        Reply
        • Anthony says:

          That is so good to hear that she’s still with us. I’m also very intrigued to find out who she played on the final episode. Thank you so much David and Kimberly. xo

          Reply
          • David Simon says:

            Ronnie was at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting and she portrayed the woman who was given a token for having a first day clean.

            Reply
  8. Glenn says:

    THE CORNER was one of the most powerful mini-series in HBO history. When I first watched it I was interested because it was based on real people. After watching it I wish it would have been fiction. Most of the people were just too likeable to know the ugly reality of their all too real and ugly world. One of the most memorable scenes was when Gary was shooting up with” People Get Ready” playing on the radio and remembering playing basketball with his son. When he looked up at the goal it was like he was looking up in the sky and saw angels. After what happened to him he very well may have saw angels. With Gary’s ability to only find peace in death I can’t help but think DeAndre was forever haunted by that and it seemed to seal his own fate. I was heart broken to hear of DeAndre’s death but not at all surprised to hear how it happened. Gary and DeAndre I hope and pray you both found the peace in death you couldn’t find in life.

    Reply
  9. Glenn says:

    THE CORNER was one of the most powerful mini-series in HBO history. I looked forward to watching it because it was non-fiction and after watching it wish to God it would have been fiction. Most of the characters portrayed were just too likable to envision how drugs destroyed their lives. A very ugly reality in a very ugly world. One of the most unforgetable scenes was when Gary was shooting up and “People Get Ready” was playing on the radio. When he was remembering playing basketball with his son he looked up at the goal but it also looked like he was looking up at the sky and saw angels. As it turned out later he very well may have. I can’t help but think Gary’s ability to only find peace in death haunted DeAndre to the point it seemed to seal his own fate. I was heart broken to hear of DeAndre’s death but not surprised to how it happened. Like Gary I hope you found peace also DeAndre.

    Reply
  10. Sister Mouzona says:

    Mr. Simon,

    The way that you mentioned George “Blue” Epps in this article seems to imply that he is also no longer alive. I read your 2009 afterword to the U.K. edition of “The Corner” and it seemed that he was still doing well at the time. But that was the last I knew of him. I haven’t found any obituaries for Blue. I just want to ask if it is true that he is also deceased now.

    Reply
  11. ash333 says:

    Real shame.. Loved him playing Lemar in The Wire. Great little character that DeAndre played brilliantly against Michael Potts’ Brother Mouzone.. A real joy to watch

    RIP

    Reply
  12. Phil says:

    I also came to this site from watching all of the episodes on HBO. It’s really disheartening to discover that he developed an addiction and succumbed to his demons, and I hope that his family is doing well. I lost one brother to an OD and my other brother is currently in and out of jail for a variety of charges related to his addictions. I found myself in tears watching this miniseries again and confronting the despair and hopelessness of heroin addiction. Thank you David for sharing the McCulloughs’ story and for your advocacy against the drug war.

    Reply
  13. Donna says:

    I remember the HBO miniseries & was surprised to see it airing again after all these years. I am watching all of the episodes right now. My curiosity got the best of me & I Googled Fran & found out about DeAndre. Sad. Very, very sad.

    Reply
  14. Tina says:

    Mr. Simon,

    I just finished watching The Corner and came across your beautiful tribute to Dre. His story, along with all of the others weigh heavily on my heart. Showing the flashbacks of the origins of the characters really impacted my outlook. You were able to show that every addict matters and everyone has a story. Essentially, we are all only a few steps from the Corner. I will be thinking about the people in the story for a long time.

    How is Fran’s younger son doing?

    I also want to thank you for giving us The Wire and Treme. You are a storyteller like no other and I am extremely thankful.

    Tina

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      DeRodd is doing well. He’s learned film editing. He’s a father. He’s a good young man all around.

      Reply
      • meme martin says:

        Deandre story broke my heart because he had so much potential.hows everyone doing now? i just finished reading the book the corner . and i was wondering are you thinking about writing just a part two detailed about what happened to everyone afterwards or even making another mini series of the corner. that would be sooo great.

        Reply
  15. Jay says:

    Mr. Simon,

    Have you ever considered writing a new afterword for your book “The Corner,” like you did for “Homicide,” seven years ago? Speaking as a fan of your work in general I was sad to read your (beautifully written) article about the death of De’Andre, though I also wonder if you have considered writing more about what has happened to some of the others you depicted in that book since it’s original publication, like Ronnie Boice for instance, or maybe a more detailed discription of the deaths of R.C. and most of the rest of De’Andre’s old gang. Forgive me if you have in fact already written about these things but I just never found anything dealing with those particular subjects. (Just for the record I am not trying to enroach on anyone’s privacy and if you read this I hope you understand that was not my intention.)

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Actually, I did so a couple years ago for the release of the book in the U.K. and subsequent editions in other countries have this later afterword. The American publisher has shown no interest in putting the book back on the presses with the new afterword, but perhaps I will inquire again. Thanks for your interest and perhaps you can lay hands on the Canongate (U.K.) edition of the book.

      Reply
      • d. tyler says:

        Mr. Simon how are you. Just 2 start off: Im from Newark New Jersey and a very big fan of your work (TV & as an author) and like Im reading now (& see that my feelings are shared across America) Im sure it’s no surprise to hear that Im mostly a fan b/c of your extravagant way of portraying REALITY – from life situations down to the way certain area’s slang are pronounced. All of these reasons do make an impact on the viewers impression & draw them much closer. From watching & reading the corner, the wire, etc. it was as if I had a great feel for how other hoods in other states move & operate. I could hardly blink as I was reading about one of my favorite David Simon characters passing on (RIP ‘Dre) that was just truly a devastating surprise. My love & condolences go deeply out to the fam & friends of Dre. We hear that life is much better on the other side, but still it hurts to let 1 go there. I have a much deeper appreciation 4 you & your work Mr. Simon I honestly do. Especially seeing that you are able to be reached by fans & followers. If possible, are you able to give me an email or any form of formal contact. There are things I would really like to get your advice & suggestions about. This would be greatly appreciated Mr. Simon, honestly. Thanks again & please keep up the good work educating the urban society. We love it man…. #RIPdre

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          I’m sorry, but this is the extent of my contacts with readers or viewers. To go beyond this, I would be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of correspondence, not to mention deluged with story ideas, actor glossies, unsolicited screenplays. As it is, I have to fend a pile of that stuff off when it reaches me through inappropriate conduits. I think it’s enough that I try to maintain and service this site, frankly.

          Reply
          • Tyler says:

            The fact that you respond to your fans and readers via this forum is greatly appreciated. I agree, and would further state that what you are doing is more than enough.

            Reply
      • meme martin says:

        Deandre story broke my heart because he had so much potential.hows everyone doing now? i just finished reading the book the corner . and i was wondering are you thinking about writing just a part two detailed about what happened to everyone afterwards or even making another mini series of the corner. that would be sooo great.

        thank u

        Reply
    • Jay says:

      I wish I had known that sooner. I’ll look into it. Thanks, and good luck with your future projects.

      Reply
      • Arthur says:

        Hey David,

        Like Jay, I too happen to be a huge fan of your work, including your ability to describe real people in such detail. As such I also share Jay’s curiosity about a certain “lady” in your book “The Corner,” named Ronnie Boice. I have read the U.K. edition that you described above and though I appreciated the updates I was more than a little surprised to see that there was no thorough mention of Boice. For me, she is one of the book’s most compelling figures precisely because of how unsympathetic she turns out in both the book and the mini-series (Tasha Smith played the part superbly IMO.) I do wonder if you might have any insight into what has happened to her since the death of her target “Gary McCullough.” After all the torture (and appalling double-standards) that she put him through, to read about her being moved to tears at Gary’s burial was a major surprise to me. I thoroughly admire how you are able to explain a person like Gary (R.I.P.), or Fran or De’Andre (R.I.P.) so thoroughly that the reader can appreciate them as real people.

        Like Jay, I wonder if you know what has happened to her since then, but even more than that I wonder if you can answer the following question:

        How do you explain a character like the selfish, scheming (and hypocritical), Veronica Boice?

        Reply
      • Kimberly says:

        Jay,

        I know this is a little late but I just thought I would share that I just purchased a copy of the 2009 edition that includes Mr. Simon’s forward from Amazon.co.uk.

        I am so excited, I can hardly wait until it arrives. I was not able to purchase a Kindle version but you can have a hard copy shipped.

        Good luck!

        Reply
        • Jay says:

          Kimberly,

          Thank you for your input. Actually, I purchased my own copy of the U.K. edition last month from the U.K. version of Amazon.com. Also just so you are aware, the newer section is an afterword not a foreword, as Mr. Simon and I discussed in our exchange of words two months ago. I have read it and although we all know certain things have happened since the afterword was initially written it still serves as a satisfactory update to the book’s initial publication in 1997. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

          All the best,

          Jay

          Reply
  16. RaeAnne says:

    I just found this. How heartbreaking. What a horrible, horrible waste. These children deserve so much better. Bless you for giving him a voice in the world, and letting his name be known so that he can be missed as he deserved.

    Reply
  17. Dean Leto says:

    I have been showing the corner to my high school classes, mostly seniors. Next week for their semester final, i am showing the sixth hour. I am sitting here almost in tears, thinking how can I tell them this? I really have to be ready for some emotional fallout, because the kids are very invested in De Andre…..

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      As was anyone who got to know him. It is very hard for me to watch him at the end of The Corner.

      It’s been a hard, hard year for Fran.

      Reply
  18. James Reaves says:

    Mr. Simon,
    Just found your blog through a friend. I was tearing up by the end of your piece on D’Andre. I read The Corner years ago, and strongly urged my friends to read it, too. I wanted them to realize the folks we see on the corner are human beings, with hopes and dreams and shortcomings. Just like us, although perhaps their demons are harder to keep at bay.
    On a different note, I thoroughly enjoyed
    Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. I remember buying a copy as soon as it became available, and reading it eagerly. At that time, I was a Pretrial Release Investigator and I remember ed the cases you wrote about. I also interviewed the suspect that ran over his woman passenger in South Baltimore. Dave Brown’s statement of charges on that case was brilliant.
    Hope you and your family have a great holiday.

    Reply
  19. josh says:

    I heard about Donnie passing away. Donnie had a chance to redeem himself and I am at peace with that. But I just heard about Dre. It hurts more than I thought it would.

    Reply
  20. Ryan says:

    Hi David,

    I Finished reading “The Corner” last night. I read Homicide last year. Loved them both. Brilliant work by the both of you. I cannot begin to praise you and say how inspired and impressed I was with both books.

    Half way through reading “The Corner” I decided to google DeAndre and some of the other characters to see if the picture I created in my mind was close to what they actually looked like, when I googled them I leaned of DeAndre’s death and stumbled upon this site. I booked marked this particular blog to read after I had finished “The Corner.” reading the book from then on knowing Dre’s fate was a strange feeling but didn’t change the way I felt about him or the other characters.

    Gary’s death in the book was a huge shock to me and actually made me kick out in frustration, but what really got me was Ella’s death. This amazing woman who put her life and soul into making other peoples life’s nicer suddenly dies, really stuck me as, well, sort of unfair. Your book, and this article brought tears to my eyes. I have never set foot in Baltimore I am from The UK but I feel this connection with Baltimore and the characters now thanks to your books. Thank you for writing these books and I hope everyone is doing well especially Fran, that woman is a huge inspiration.

    Thank You,
    Ryan

    Reply
  21. Ray Clark says:

    Mr. Simon, I want to thank you for writing “The Corner” and ” The Wire.” My family had close ties to the McCulloughs. My uncle, Micheal Ellerbe was in the movie. His voice was on the intro calling out red tops. Fran was very good friends with my aunt. I remember back in the day, her visits to my grandmothers home. I’ve watched and read your work only to know how truly blessed I am to have left Maryland. To know something other than the streets. It keeps me humble. Every time I think of moving back, It reminds me of what I left. I was fortunate to have an outlet when my brother went into the navy and was stationed in Florida. I met Dre a couple of times. He was a good guy, like many other guys in Baltimore that I know. It’s not easy to get out. The life is hard because it’s fast, day to day, and no tomorrow in it. The reality is sometimes that’s all a person knows, if they don’t know anything else.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      How is Mike doing? Is he still working the ships?

      Yeah, I miss Dre. Sad story, that. And he had the heart for a different one.

      Reply
  22. Michael says:

    I was a latecomer to The Corner and The Wire, and now I am latecomer to this post. This really saddens, Mr. Simon. But I was glad to know him, even through the remove of yourself and your writing. If he inspired you like you have inspired me, then his short time on this planet was more significant than one hundred years would be for most folk. My condolences to you, and my appreciation to you both.

    Reply
  23. Maura Alia Badji says:

    Thank you for describing so well the heartbreak and frustration of loving and trying to help soneone caught in the jealous grip of addiction. DDeAndre reminds me of my youngest brother, the one I called ‘my baby”, the one I tried to save numerous times. When I was 20 and he was 14, I connected with the late Floyd Patterson, the big hearted former heavy weight boxing champion who took in troubled young men at his property outside New Paltz, NY. Mr. Patterson sent avdriver to my studio apartment and gave us a toyrvof his ‘camo’, after which he iffered to rake my brother in. I remember hiw gentle Nr. Oattersib seemed for a big man and giw hus hand was the size of two of mine when he reached tovshake it. My brother had already started drinking and drugging to dull the pain he sufferied at tbe hands of our sociopathically abusive father and our enabling and passive mother. Ironically, he was introduced to those activities by the bored and troubled darm boys of the little Central NY town that our parents moved to after i left for college early and our middle brother joined the Navy. In time, i figured out that the many times i tried to rescue him were inspired by the profound sense of guilt I ca rried for having left him behind when I was 17. It was guilt, sadness, anger at the waste if his potential that drove me to try to help, try to inspire, over and over again. Time after time he resisted my rescue, even as he begged for it. He was a beautiful, promising boy who grew to be a ruined beauty of a man. Now 44 and still riding the cycle of decline and temporary redemption, he lives on the fringes of Vegas nightlife where his charm and wit come in handy. No one can make me laugh like my brother; no one has made me cry more. I have since learned to love him and pray for him from afar. It doesn’t remedy the worry or pain, but it does keep me and my son out of range of backlash.

    Reply
  24. Andrew says:

    Hey David quick question for you that I have never seen any interviewers ask you before. In the Wire none of the characters are ever smoking weed. In every documentary on National Geographic, youtube, etc. that portrays corner culture everyone is buying/smoking weed all the time. Is that culture not around Baltimore corner culture at all?

    PS. Great piece. It had me tearing up at work and coming up with contacts acting up excuses in case anyone walked into my cubical.

    Reply
  25. Cham Green says:

    I would like to know more about Rudolph Horton, dod 09/06/12 on Holbrook Street in Baltimore. What happened to him between 1992 and now? You knew him.

    Reply
  26. Ann says:

    This reminds me of my oldest brother. I’ll say a prayer for you and for Dre.

    Reply
  27. carla says:

    I lost my breath on your blog about Dre.. I too have seen so many GOOD people lose the battle of Drug Addiction … Let’s not forget that Drug Dealers in today’s society especially in entertainment industry are made to be super heroes… These are the people that get the girls, cars and this lifestyle if only you sell these drugs.. My husband was one such person who lost the battle and now he sits in a nursing home, blind and confused at forty three years old… However his story will not be told on any upcoming video… Kudos to you David for bringing reality to mainstream America..

    Reply
  28. Joanna Crosby says:

    Dear Mr. Simon,

    Shortly after you first posted this piece, there was an interchange in the comments section between a former cop and yourself that got a bit heated. In your responses to his unwillingness to acknowledge DeAndre’s humanity, you made powerful arguments demanding that respect. While I’ve always agreed with you, I’ve not been able to articulate the ideas as well as you did, particularly not in such specific context.

    I’m teaching a course where we are reading Peter Singers article from the 70s called Famine Affluence and Morality. Some of the students in my class at Morgan (most of whom are from the Baltimore and PG area) are having a hard time acknowledge the humanity of people in situations like that of DeAndre. I was hoping to share your interaction with them. Any chance you could repost it, or send me a copy?

    I understand why you removed it from this section. It was appropriate. Although I only knew of DeAndre from your book, I felt the pain of his loss and his struggle. I have a brother out west going through somewhat similar situations.

    I do, think, however, many of us can learn from the deleted exchange.

    My sincere thanks in any case,
    Joanna Crosby

    Reply
    • Karl says:

      Joanna- the older comments (including the ones you are searching for) are not deleted, you just need to hit the “older comments” link at the top left of the comments section.

      Reply
  29. andy says:

    This is so sad,I can’t help it,i cried for deandre just now.i was checkin the internet if there was any news about snoop pearson.and then i found this old abc news clip on youtube.must have been before the wire,about the corner acctually, in the bottom i saw comments about deandre beeing dead. I could not believe it! must have been a mistake or a misplaced joke,but no unfortunatly it was not. Because i am also an addic, those shows,the people and the city became a part of me.i hold them close to my heart.and i will always remember!!! my heart goes out to Fran,Tyreeka,his boy,David,Ed.all his family and friends.and everybody who knew him.
    i will miss him

    Reply
  30. OVERCOMER says:

    Whats up! Neacy,Dave,Kevin it’s good to hear from y’all. To Deandre rest in peace and may God comfort the family. Prayers go out to all that survived THECORNER. Jesus i ask you to protect us all and bless every area of our life Amen! This is bringing me to tears as i write… Missing my love ones that died so soon… God knows everything though… Nothing goes unnoticed by God… Thank God for keeping us all those years… Well Dre if you hear me i love you family… I’ll be here making Hell run by faith and obedeince in God is my gun… No more using drugs,drug dealing i’m standing on the same corners our life story was birthed… Now giving hope,saving lives,and souls is my mission for God… The Devil say i am still dealing,but i’m on THECORNERS being used by God lol… After all He saved my life… Jails,mental institutions,stabbings,shootings… It’s obvious God was cheering me on to live and not die… When i first got shot i saw the bullet coming at my eye… I called on God to save me 10 shots close range only 1shot hiting my hand,because maraculously i was able to block the bullet… My head should be splattered i thought holes in my clothes coming out the other side… Dre i looked in the alley after i ran thinking my soul jumped out my body… I thought my body was laying in the alley terrified i looked to see that i’m not dead… What about all those bullets that were aimed at my body and head… How in the hell i’m not dead… This huge blue light covered me when i called on God… At first it seemed odd… No i saved you God said… Still living in hurt Gods full power couldn’t work… One more shooting then a stabbing… I CAN TELL THE DEVIL WAS BRAGGING… I told God i would have mercy on all my enemies if He healed me… In ICU FIGHTING TO LIVE ON LIFE SUPPORT… MY BOWELS WERE DEAD… WHAT!!! I WAS JUST WALKING DOWN THE STREET… DEVASTATED… THIS CANN’T BE… DOCTORS SAY I HAVE PAMENANT NERVE DAMAGE… I’M NOT LIKELY TO WALK FULLY AGAIN… I HATE U STREETS I THOUGHT U WAS MY FRIEND… YOUR GONNA NEED A BAG ON YOUR SIDE TO USE THE BATHROOM DOCTORS TOLD ME… I SAID TO HELL NOOOO… GOD HAS THE LAST SAY SO… ASKING THE NURSE FOR A BIBLE… I SAID A HEALING PRAYER OUT LOUD CLAIMING HEALING IN JESUS NAME AMEN… THE PRESENCE OF GOD FILLED THE ROOM… ASURING ME EVERYTHING WAS OK… TEARS OF JOY AND ANOUGH PEACE TO STOP A WAR… TO SLEEP I WENT MY HEART ALREADY HAD VENT… WAKING UP TO JOY IN THE MORNING ANOTHER DAY GOD HAS MADE I THOUGHT… THESE WORDS PENETRATING MY HEART… LIKE A ARROW FROM CUPID I HAD A BOWEL MOVEMENT… BETTER KNOWN AS GAS… DON’T WORRY EVEN NOW I LAUGH… GOD HEALED ME OVER NIGHT… THE DOCTORS SO BAFFLED TO AMIT THAT GOD HEALED ME… MY BOWELS WERE DEAD LETS REMEMBER OVER NIGHT GODS HEALING WON THAT FIGHT… NOW I’M TAKING BACK EVERYTHING THE DEVIL STOLE MAKING HIM WISH HE HID IN A HOLE… SEEING MIRACLES,SIGNS,WONDERS,DAILY… LIVING A DREAM COME TRUE… MY MY MY HOW I GREW… I NEVER WOULD HAVE MADE WITH OUT GOD… NOW DRE I’LL REWRITE OUR STORY HOW WE CAME FROM NOTHING… NOW WE’RE USED BY GOD TO CHANGE LIVES ACROSS THE WORLD… YEAH!!! THAT SOUNDS GREAT TO ME TOO DRE… I’LL STAND FOR YOU MY BROTHER RUNNING THIS RACE… WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN WE’LL HAVE THECORNER AFTER PARTY LOL… GET READY DRE TELL GOD TO PREPARE MY BED… REST IN PEACE MY BROTHER I’LL DO WHAT I CAN TO COMFORT YOUR MOTHER… YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE HER… LOVE YOU ALWAYS DRE… UNTIL GOD CALLS ME I’LL BE YOUR LIVING WITNESS THAT GOD IS GREAT!!! SORRY!!! WORLD HELL IS NOT MY FATE… SERVING GOD LIKE AT DINNER TIME HERE’S YOUR PLATE… STILL WAITING FOR THAT PERFECT MATE… FOR NOW I JUST DATE… KEEPING MY ZIPPER UP… FOR MARRAIGE I’LL WAIT… CELEBRATING EVERYDAY LIKE MY BIRTHDAY IT’S MY CAKE… GOD DON’T MAKE MISTAKES… FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE LIKE COOLAID TO SUGAR… WHEN TIMES GOT HARD YOU CAN RELATE WE REALLY THANKED GOD THAT WE EVEN ATE… HAD A DREAM ABOUT YOU NEACY MY TEENAGE LOVE… IT FELT SO REAL I THANKED GOD ABOVE… STILL REMEMBERING YOUR UNFAILING LOVE… FROM BOYS TO MEN WE ALL KNOW THAT SONG… I’M WRITTING THIS TO SAY STAY STRONG… WHAT WOULD MAN DO WITH OUT WOMAN… CANN’T FORGET I CAME OUT WO…MAN… THE BIBLE SAYS WHEN MAN FINDS A WIFE HE FINDS A GOOD THING… IF LOVE HAS NOT DRABBED YOU YET NEACY… HERE’S MY FEELINGS FROM MY HEART COMING AT YOU LIKE A JET IN THE SKY… YOU KNOW IN MY DREAMS I CAN FLY… MY POINT IS REAL LOVE NEVER DIES… EXPRESSING MY HEART WITH TEARED UP EYES… EVEN BACK THEN I WAS INLOVE WITH MY BEST FRIEND… I PRAY ALL LIFES HURTS GOD MENDS… STILL INLOVE WITH MY BEST FRIEND… YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE THIS I KNOW… WISHING YOU THE BEST… I’M NOT JEALOUS IN GOD I INVEST… TREATING EVERYDAY AS A TEST… REMEMBER WHEN I WAS CONSIDERED A NERD… THE TWINS LAUGHED LIKE THAT WAS, SO UBSURD… WELL MY FATHER IS BETTER… DON’T WANT TO MISS LOVE ANYMORE,SO I WRTE YOU THIS LETTER… STILL A CHILD AT HEART THAT WAY GOD KEEPS USING ME DOING THINGS NOW THAT’S ,SO AMUSING TO ME… WAS A G… IN THE STREETS NOW I’M A G… FOR GOD… THE DEVIL STILL MAD HE DIDN’T KILLME… SAYING IT’S ,SO HARD… IF YOU HAPPY WITH LIFE LIKE A MESSAGE YOU CAN PUSH DELETE… IF YOUR OPEN TO TEENAGE LOVE AGAIN WE MEET… HERE I AM A MAN AFTER GODS HEART… MAY GOD BLESS YOU FROM YOUR HEAD TO FEET… FOR NOW THESE WORDS IS MY FOOD AND HOW I EAT… GIFTED BY GOD YOU FEEL THAT? IT’S MY HEART BEAT… MOVING WITH RYTHM PULLING ON MY FAITH IN HIM… WHEN YOU GET THIS MESSAGE MAY YOUR HEART PRESS SEND… A KING IS NOTHING WITHOUT HIS QUEEN… LIVING IN REALITY NOW THIS WASN’T JUST A DREAM… BOLD IN FAITH LIKE A LION IN THE JUNGLE… CAN YOU HEAR ME ROAR… RUNNIG FOR THE TOUCHDOWN HOW DOES REAL LOVE SOUND… BEEN PLAYING THIS GAME ALL MY LIFE… IT’S TIME TO WIN… THIS IS A MAN EXPRESSING TRUE FEELINGS SEPERATING THE BOYS FROM MEN… REACHING OUT FOR YOUR HAND HAPPILY EVER AFTER AWWWWWWW… A HEART FILLED WITH LAUGHTER LOVE FOUND ME NOW IT’S YOUR HEART I’M AFTER…

    Reply
    • OVERCOMER says:

      I THOUGHT I’D LET MY LIFE SPEAK FOR IT SELF… I ASKED GOD WHAT WOULD BE MY NAME AS A ARTIST… NOW WRITTING POETRY,RAP,SPOKEN WORD… I NEEDED A STAGE NAME,SO OVERCOMER CAME… BEING AS THOUGH MY LIFE SPEAKS OF OVERCOMING THE IMPOSSIBLE MAN SAYS… WITH THIS NAME I GIVE GOD PRAISE… Y’ALL KNOW ME AS DEON MY SMILE SPOKE LIKE WORDS… STILL SMILING FAMILY LOL… THE DEVIL MAD HE SAYS I’M BEING UBSURD… SO GIFTED BY GOD EVEN MY WORDS SAY WORD!!! I LOVE Y’ALL DAVE,NEACY,KEVIN,TRINA… MY LIFE IS GREAT! LIVE EVERYDAY LIKE THE BALTIMORE AREANA.. AEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

      Reply
    • Hakeemah says:

      That was the deep! Rip Andre……

      Reply
  31. Neacey says:

    Each beat of my heart i feel like our time is gettin shorter here in the innercity streets of baltimore….shorter in breath towards our goals….and i see the struggle gettin harder and harder no matter how much persistance we give….its not easy here at all and being a product to our environment of course it hibernates our motivation to do better…..these streets can only give you an appitite that will set u in a downward spiral….Deandre had a good heart no doubt….but deandre’s desires was the one that rob him from himself…..A great man that the devil was so selfish to let live to his higher potential……A chosen one that was given so many opportunities with paths that were so inviting awaiting great rewards to success to
    make it out this hellpit….A spirit warfare is what were fighting and its yet the hardest…he fought to be better i know….and being a victim of someone u love whos tryin to kick a habit but cant…..hurts them more ….just cause they cant ..thats where that shame stood in at and it only segregate u from the ones you love…..every progress is a process…..of course its hard….this is a war here…..Every min Every sec….In the times of our parents it was a Drug warfare….smh…now our generation has only been claim by a pharmacutical warfare….Its hitting home dangerously and its hurts …to many of our young are abusing medicine…..wheres at least a decent solution….i see none… especially not with this NEW JIM CROW LAW…how easy is it escape something that was program before our time to understanding theres different …This behavior was being manifested within him ….growing without his ability to see better…. my last encounter with him i felt his pain…..i seen the demon manisfesting….but i also seen that boy David spoke on….piercing thru the pupil of his eyes saying i aggresivly need help….i wanted so much for him…the same i wanted and still do for my mother….a break thru….a exocist…..a antidote for the desease that was causing his demise…we spoke on how he was gonna get better and how we were gonna get together and share a project of how (we) the children …that were affected by the drug warfare that kidnapped our parents….it doesnt take long to choose a side to an non ending battle….Even though we knew his path God knew his heart….he knew his journey before hand ….Deandre didnt loose….you see god puts us all here for a reason….He place David Simon just where he needed to be….he chose a man that could deliver just what he wanted us to see by vision bringing fourth The Corner….and yet again how it manifested trickling down to the very children of those addict…The Wire….Deandre was the sign of our time….he represents our generation today….Wake up….Our final hour is close at hand…please please please my people lets not let this demon keep us captive …..we will never debel within the streets of Baltimore…..Drugs are diffently not the answer nor ur friend….its the Enemy…..Rest easy Deandre…..and thanks for being so couragous for so many…..Never forgotten….

    Reply
  32. jattSpedype says:

    Usually I do not learn post on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post.

    Reply
  33. Burg says:

    I, too, was deeply saddened to hear of DeAndre’s death. LIke so many others I was moved by your sensitive, compassionate, unflinching portrayal of the McCullough family and the forces that shaped their life paths. It’s so easy–and heartless, and ignorant–to dismiss people when talking about them in a general, stereotypical way — i.e. drug addicts, drug dealers, getting what they deserved. When confronted with the kind of masterful and honest portrait of a real life, and real lives, it’s far more difficult. As a fellow journalist, I’ve been a great admirer of your work, David, from Homicide (an astonishing book) to The Corner, to, of course, The Wire (also love Treme and look forward to its return.) What I’m so grateful for is precisely your empathy and clear-eyed compassion –not to mention the genius of your reporting. But this note is not to blow smoke, but to express my condolences and heartbreak over the death of DeAndre and, belatedly, his father, Gary. As someone who has struggled with addiction myself, it hurts to the core. God bless and keep them and every one on the corners fighting for a different fate.

    Reply
  34. Donna says:

    I feel so lost and sad right now. IT was a time when DeAndre came to Philly to recover from drugs and alcohol and later we where living together. DeAndre became someone special in my life and later in the relationship my heart and soul ached because he continue to use drugs. I loved him so I hung in there with him but it wasn’t easy because I could not change him. He had a way in him that you could not broke, shake or speak on, he was always right. My man was a fighter. As time went on in are relationship I started to see that this man was suffering with depression, sleepless nights and he was a very angry person even when he was high as well, I can agree with you David on that . The relationship got very hard to be in. I didn’t know how to help him so I had to let him go. Yes we keep in touch, the last time I head from him was when he was in Tuerk House. I loved him and hope that he would one day return back to me clean and sober and easy to love. He always told me that he wasn’t scared to die but he never slept. DeAndre now you can sleep in peace, I will always remember the good with the bad, and when you smiled you made me smile because you didn’t like to smile. The battle is over.

    Reply
  35. Keith Connolly says:

    Very sad news indeed. I’m from Dublin, Ireland and read the Corner & Homicide a good few years ago, you might be surprised the similarities that exist between Inner City Baltimore and our more impoverished sections of Dublin.

    I found the McCullogh story fascinating and terrible in equal measures. I was most happy to hear that they had made moves to get away from the corner.

    I felt a deep affinity to Gary, in his struggle and in all that he had lost when he had made such a life in holding his three jobs and playing the market. He seemed a ghost within those pages. They seemed a family that was everyone and yet unlike anyone else.

    I think sometimes of the Baltimore of your books and wonder at America. So often we, in Europe, have a rose tinted impression of that soaring country and it is good that the reality can be so well expressed in your books and The Wire and that recent documentary, The Interrupters.

    Im glad I read your books, and that I got to know the lives of those people and that family. I think that that is important. Whether I am Irish or American.

    Keith Connolly.

    Reply
  36. Peter Tebaei says:

    Thanks for telling Dre’s story David. Dre, and Gary and Fran are all part of the American story – a part that too often goes overlooked.

    Reply
  37. David Gans says:

    Thank you for this, David. It’s a terrible story to have to report, but you gave us the heart of it, again.

    Reply
  38. MCc says:

    I remember the last time we saw De’Andre it was April 19th, on Fayette Street, he was in the SUV with Fran. We were coming out of the house on Fayette Street. He ran behind us with a big smile on his face. He assured us he would be at our house for a celebration in Delaware next month. We stood on the corner and took pictures. I will always remember him in that happy moment.

    Rest in peace with the Angels

    Reply
    • Danny, MA says:

      David, I dont know if you will ever read or consider this comment, but watching The Wire changed my life. I’m a 27 year old male from a rough city in southcoast Massachusetts and have been caught up in drug/opiate addiction since I was 20.

      But watching the Wire, seeing these people, struggle like I struggle, and see the hurt, the same hurt I felt my whole childhood growing up with drug addicted/alcoholic parents. Seeing Bubbles, and Wallace, especially Wallace get high was chilling. I connected to Wallace and felt for him as he stood in his room day after day hiding a secret addiction, even whilst having to take care of SEVEN younger siblings all on his own. My mother is sick and dying and Im the only one there for her. And watching your show made me quit doing heroin so I could better care for my mother (which she coincidentally tried to do for me). I’m on day 9 of recovery and did it all by myself with meds I found on the street. I just layed in my bed and watched The Wire. The Wire has saved a young life, far far away from the corners of Baltimore.

      Thank you Mr. Simon. Your work is fascinating and I’m currently enrolled at the community college finally attempting to attain my goals and dreams that were snatched away by drugs. I’m a young artist actually and hope to do work similar to yourself. Art imitates life, yet its art that can also shape or change life. Thank you.

      Reply
      • Peter Tebaei says:

        Thanks for sharing that’s a great story.

        Don’t ever give up. Sobriety is one day at a time. (I’ll spare you the full 12 step lecture).

        Reply
        • Danny, MA says:

          Day 24 now.

          Thank you Peter. I just wanted to leave one more comment as I felt i did Gary and DeAndre an injustice for not having watched or read The Corner, but now that I have righted that injustice I feel like I can now speak on his situation.

          I always thought Lamar was an interesting character on the wire. His demeanor was….interesting. He wasnt really acting, it felt like. But anyway, his and Gary’s story (even Fat Curts, given my mother is suffering from liver disease having used her whole life) are much more upsetting and impactful than any story from the wire. Rest in Peace DeAndre. Hopefully him and Gary are in a better place. And thanks to David Simons work hopefully I will be one of the “1 out of 10′s”.

          Watching gary buy vitamins, give his mother money, go for a walk, and watch a movie (shindlers List no less, smart man indeed) all while wearing his clonodine patch with great pride has given me more inspiration to beat whatever problems I might face than anything else I have ever seen. RIP

          Reply
  39. Kevin says:

    Well, I had my friends over my house last night…….my childhood friends all who grew up DeAndre just going through all the pictures went took together as kids. We all started laughing and going back down memory lane. I showed them pictures of our grade school pictures from Staurt Hill Elementary, Franklin Square and Harlem Park Middle Schools. We just could not believe how innocent we were. Majority of our family members were on drugs or addicted to alcohol, which we thought was normal. We had to do what was necessary for us to survive in the environment that we all were born into which meant maturing really fast and learning how to provide for yourself at an early age. By all means life was not easy growing up in the inner city Baltimore. We all learned life long lessons at an early age. This type of lifestyle was considered normal……Wow..Looking back I am glad we all hung out together starting from Mount and Fayette Streets. I still remember my first job was at the B and O Railroad musem on Pratt Street. I was proud of myself but my crew made jokes about it. Those were the good days. Now that I am an adult raising a son, I know how to be a role model. I will teach my son how to be a real man and aim for the stars and to obtain a good education because for me that enabled me to move out of the inner city and achieve a valuable college education that no one can ever take away from me.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      From your handle, I take it you went to UMBC. That’s great, Kevin. Ed and I knew that you were going a different path even back then. You were one the crew, but kept a careful, considered distance. Come nightfall, you were never out on a corner. That was rare. And it mattered.

      Reply
  40. Angela McCormick says:

    So sad to hear this news. Our lives do matter.

    Reply
  41. Adam Glenn says:

    Very moving. … “If virtue sheds her light, even along the crags and cracks of poverty, it will be esteemed by high, noble spirits, and so be favored.” – Cervantes

    Reply
  42. Nathaniel McCullough says:

    Hello David,
    Thanks for the heartfelt reflections at the funeral of Dre. We loved him dearly. It was nice seeing you there and knowning that you really cared for him. He was a great nephew and will be greatly missed by his family. The angels are watching over him now. I spoke to you after the funeral and got your phone numbers and email. I seemed to have lost them in all my despair yesterday. Can you please forward them to my email.
    Thank you

    Reply
  43. Kevin says:

    yes, Tae and Brooks are both home. Tae is about to get married. He has a stable job and is doing really well for himself and family. Brooks still works off and on. He resides with both of his cousins, Manny and Deon.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Kevin, give my regards to both. I remember Brooks as the smallest and in many ways toughest in that crew. I hope he’s on a good roll. Along with DeAndre, Tae, was one of the smarter kids I’ve encountered anywhere. I remember him going everywhere that whole year with that damn math book under his arm, intent on graduating. I’m glad they’re home and here’s to second chances.

      Reply
    • Aaron from PA says:

      I’m really glad to read that those two made it. I will have to read the book again, i seem to have forgotten Brooks but i definitely remember Tae. Everyone in that book was more then characters to me, they were the most amazing people i had ever read about. Because their America was so foreign to me. How could a place in America be so overlooked and disenfranchised.

      The book was so monumental in my life for different reasons.

      I was a horrible heroin addict at one time in my life, and the corner was always with me. i used it to navigate West Baltimore (a dangerous place for a naive white kid from small town usa). I also spent many hours alone reading it over and over.

      Years later, when i was clean, i read it again and this time saw it from a totally different perspective. The guilt i now felt for ever handing those bills to an 10 year old in that God-forsaken “hole” off North Pulaski and Saratoga. And now i related more to Fran…and how she gave me something to hope for because she really, really made it out of one of the worst addictions.

      But DeAndre. How i wished for him. I wanted him to become a big Hollywood star or something. I got mad at David Simon for not just making him his personal assistant to make sure he didn’t get in trouble. Ha, i realize now that you can’t babysit an addict and David did many things to help DeAndre and many others from the Corner. But it’s hard to recover. Sometimes (most times) our brains are damaged from the drug use. It takes time for them to repair themselves and sometimes psych meds are needed as well. Good health care is important (and even a good insurance plan will try their damndest to not pay for addiction treatment). Anyway, he was at that vulnerable fresh out of rehab stage when we’re vulnerable to relapse and overdose.

      With all that prison hanging over him, he tried to drown out that stress and pain one last time and then he was gone. Dre, you will be missed and i hope your pain is gone.

      Fran, stay strong and clean and i’m so sorry for your loss. It’s not fair.

      Reply
  44. Kristopher Kelly says:

    Guess I got used to the more positive stories of real-life people from Baltimore. This hurts.

    Heartbreaking eulogy for a kid who needed a better place and time.

    Reply
  45. Trina Thomas and Shay Collins says:

    We met DeAndre in early 1996, He was a very kindhearted , generous young man. He was a young man that once you knew him he was a forever friend. He spent many days and nights when Shay and I were roommates on Gilmor St. Where we all Shared many happy moments that have turned into treasured memories. It seems so surreal that DeAndre is no longer here with us although we have not seen him in years, We will always remember the days when the guys from the “Corner” that were more then that they were young men with hearts and goals just trying to find their way in a rough world, We had many talks and laughs about what they all wanted to do with their lives. Of course life stepped in and took us all in different directions, We will always hold DeAndre in our hearts as we know God is embracing him now, As for some of the others that we also knew, One was Dinky who left us early and then shortly after Boo then more recent the Loss of R.C. .They are also missed deeply..As for the others Tae is very happy with his new Fiancee , He is looking forward to a bright future leaving the trials of the “Corner” behind. As for Manny , Brooks and Deon they share a home attending church regularly. Manny is a very devoted Father, and Deon returns to the corner to not spread drugs but to deliver Gods Word. These were the guys we were closest too and I am personally grateful to Shay for being the first to meet most of them and to all the guys for bringing Kevin into my life.We have been together non stop since June of 1996 and now married 14 years and share two children and he is one of the young men That I am grateful you took under your wing and helped him become the hardworking family man he is.Even though we do not live near the corners anymore with the passing of DeAndre it has brought back many fond memories of the years past. May DeAndre and all the others lost trying to find their way finally be at peace and We hope they continue to watch over all those that remain here in this trying world ,
    With Heartfelt Sympathy,
    Love , Trina Thomas and Shay

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Ladies,

      Thank you for your memories and for checking in.

      Are Tae and Brooks both home? That is excellent news, and I hope they are staying away from the corners. Last I heard they were both working off significant sentences. The thought that someone eventually makes it off the Fayette Street corners that we knew is, at this point, almost too much to hope for.

      Reply
  46. Kevin says:

    it is sad that my childhood friend pasted away..We all been through so much growing up in that environment, even thou our lives took separate paths, we still remind close friends. I remember the basketball days at Cloverland and going to the neighborhood recreation.center. We were the Gilmor and Pratt boys even thou we all lived on the other side of Baltimore street..Dre u will be truly be missed, from Kevin..Man, this truly gave me a dose of reality..I missed all of my.friends..However, we will always remain.close because we are all one of the same kind..Sincerely Kevin Thomas

    P.S..Sorry..you know what I am referring too..Without you and your encouragement. I will not be the man who I am today, so thank you

    Reply
  47. Marc says:

    David
    Following your work since ‘The Corner’ through ‘The Wire’ & ‘Treme’, I had circled back to ‘The Corner’ a couple of months ago. Had been excitedly preparing for season 3 of ‘Treme’ by going back to the first two seasons. Holding a box set of the complete ‘Wire’ & looking to revisit that, I suddenly had a tug to go back to the original, the ‘ur’ place where it kind of began which to me was ‘The Corner’. I hadn’t seen it since it was first shown & all I had was a video tape of it that wouldn’t play right. I went & got hold of a dvd version and started watching an episode at a time on Sunday nights when my kid would come over to hang out. He had wanted to see it so we took our time, replayed scenes etc.

    We had gotten through episode five but had missed a few Sundays and finally was able to catch back up with the final last night. Beforehand however, I had seen this link about DeAndre’s death so it was surreal and tragic to watch the finale, especially when the real folks came out at the end to talk to Charles Dutton. Thanks, David for putting that out there, the shit never gets any easier but for me, bearing witness is mandatory…

    Reply
  48. Colfax says:

    To Fran & all of Dre’s friends and family,

    Thank you for allowing your story to be told. I’m glad you entrusted it to someone as capable as David Simon. In part because of your stories, I went back to school and have since been working in my own city to help those who are growing up in communities like Fayette St. Thank you for putting humanity into the corner and forcing me to no longer turn my head. May God be with you during this difficult time.

    To David,

    Thank you for your reasoned approach to what this war on drugs has done and is doing to our PEOPLE. When I think back to the first days I began to feel this way and how even the mention of it would be squashed as ridiculous, I realize how far we’ve truly come in this fight. Public opinion is wising up, so keep up the good fight. In the meantime, many of us will continue fighting for the humanity we see in the corner.

    Reply
  49. Louis Ross says:

    I have just finished watching ‘the wire’ and ‘the corner’ mini series. Baltimore seems like a place that is corrupted that a deadly ‘game’ that is difficult for people living on the streets to escape. I feel I now have an affiliation with Baltimore or maybe I just an affiliation with well written stories and characters. It’s hard to decide.

    It seems D’Andre had many chances and oppurtunities given to him to escape. But the corner and its life style, is all he knew, maybe its all he wanted to know? Either way he’s now just another number, another death of the drug game of America. I hope his family can be strong during this difficult time. I hope Dre and his father Gary can play some basketball in peace again.

    R.I.P

    Louis, UK

    Reply
  50. Alison Lass Camacho says:

    Dear David -

    Thank you for this heartfelt memorial to DeAndre McCullough. Thank you for putting into words the struggles of so many inner-city kids, most of whom do not have the same choices as many of the rest of us. Due to geography, lack of opportunity, abuse and drug addiction at home, many kids find themselves “on the corner”, in the streets, joining gangs, repeatedly incarcerated — and as the founder of the organization that I work for says these kids have ” a lethal absence of hope.”

    I was born, raised and now live in Los Angeles and work for an organization called Homeboy Industries. We serve up to 12,000 former gang members and recently incarcerated men and women who come through our doors seeking our services: tattoo removal, mental health and legal counseling, job development, classes, NA/AA?GA meetings, GED tutoring, and many attend our partner charter high school, Learning Works! We also have six social enterprises where we employ about 180 former gang members and recently incarcerated men and women. Many times our clients are just desperate for work, for a job.

    I see daily our client’s struggles to improve their lives, overcome their addictions and deal with their pasts which include for many complex, repeated trauma. Many of Homeboy’s clients actually suffer from PTSD, from childhoods so out of control and beyond my capacity to understand the trauma inflicted on these kids, they have developed few coping skills.

    Our clients have lived lives much like Dre. In your writing of him and in sharing part of his story here with this blog post, I was reminded of many of the people I see daily. This population, they run to the streets and their gangs not because the idea of becoming a gang member seems like a good idea, they join because they are running from their lives, from broken homes, and abuse, many times they’ve been abandoned. The gang and the street life becomes their family. They think the gang provides stability and the family they’ve never had.

    The Los Angeles I grew up in, is the same as the Los Angeles our clients have grown up in yet because of geography and circumstance, because of opportunity and who my parents were and are, my life and my childhood were so different growing up. It is why I came to work at Homeboy, I want Los Angeles to be a better place for all kids. I want children in the city I call home, to have more balanced opportunities for education, to have hope in their lives and to dream beyond their barrio or neighborhood or corner.

    I am in awe of your work, not just as an amazing writer, producer and creator of some of my favorite television shows (Treme is incredible) more so I admire your work as an advocate for issues such as the legalization of drugs, more fair and balanced policing, more support and help for drug addicts — less prison time and sentencing.

    If you are ever in Los Angeles and it is convenient for you, please come and visit Homeboy Industries. Come to the Homegirl Cafe and have some tacos, take a tour of our facilities and see the community feeling that we have here at Homeboy (and need a million times over in organizations through out our inner cities.)

    One of our clients, now working in Homegirl Cafe, released her CDC (California Department of Corrections) number after 17 years and 9 prison stints. She has been sober six years. On Friday, she told all of us that she gave her number back to the state of California. Her key to this new path in her life is her sobriety and having a job. She is back in contact with her family and her daughter. She is joyful. She is thankful. She is proud. She is where she should be after years and years of struggle. And this morning, I got a hug from her, one of those big ol’ bear hugs. A meaningful exchange. I am proud, I am thankful. I am filled with joy thinking about this moment and being a small part of this woman’s life. As she left my office there were tears in my eyes, for what she has overcome and accomplished is amazing to me. Standing with her in this way is more meaningful than anything I could possibly do in my life.

    Thank you for starting this blog. Thank you for your work. Thank you for your dedication to helping people realize that we must stand with the disenfranchised and downtrodden, the easily despised and dismissed, with gang members and the drug addict, with those less fortunate and without opportunity. We cannot continue this marginalization and cycle of repeated incarceration. It leads us nowhere. If we would chose to stand together more often, we could do better. We need to do better. We should do better. We can do better.

    - Alison Lass Camacho

    Reply
    • Tammy B says:

      Being raised in South Central, thank you for your work and the hope you give back to these individuals. I left in the early ’80′s but know all to well the downfall of the “gang life”. As a teenager I never was influenced to “jump in” but had friends that were in, neighbors that were members of the “bloods”. Some had very good homes and others were drawn in by the “family” aspect for what they didn’t have at home. They all need the chance and services you offer, in time when they are ready I’m glad your there for them, what a God send you are.

      Mr. Simon, very touching words! Through you many of us got the chance to meet “Dre”. I knew a many “Dre’s” in my lifetime, hopefully for the other “Dre’s” they find the inner peace to get the help they so need. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
      ~Tammy~

      Reply

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