Avon Barksdale
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Avon Barksdale

The Wire

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About Him

Living… the life of a king. Avon has expanded his drug empire to cover all of West Baltimore. He has insulated himself from the actual drug production and transactions, dealing only with money and decision-making. He usually stays cooped up in his office in the back of Orlando’s, a strip club, which is also one of the many fronts through which he launders dirty money.

Profession… drug lord. Avon grew up in the high-rises and started his empire with his childhood friend Stringer Bell. They both run a tight ship, though they approach it with different philosophies. Stringer, now Avon’s chief advisor, prefers to treat the operation like a traditional business. Avon, on the other hand, is most concerned with flexing muscle against anyone who threatens their territory. He intends to rule his “corners,” the street intersections where most drug dealing is done, with an iron fist. “I ain't no suit-wearin' businessman like you,” Avon tells Stringer. “I'm just a gangster, I suppose. And I want my corners.”

Interests… sports. He was once a talented amateur boxer, and he now invests considerable time and money towards winning the annual Westside Projects-Eastside Projects basketball game, in which he coaches against corpulent Eastside kingpin Proposition Joe.

Relationship Status… not one for monogamy. Avon has a voracious sexual appetite and a veritable harem at his disposal. He is careful not to get too attached to any woman in particular. If one of them tries to blackmail him by threatening to report him to the police, he won’t think twice about dispatching his trusted soldier and friend Wee-Bey to dispose of them.

Challenge… staving off police attention. Avon keeps a low profile himself and instructs his dealers to use pagers and pay phones rather than cell phones. Still, he can’t shake pesky detective Jimmy McNulty’s operation, which is slowly but surely building a case against him. It is only a matter of time before he is forced to consult his wily lawyer, Maurice Levy.

Personality… tough, authoritative and violent. Avon is a natural leader who commands respect. His presence is felt when he enters a room. He often sports a doo rag and Timberland boots, and he walks with an impressive strut. He exerts an ineffable cool stepping out the rear door of a black Escalade. If Avon had a spirit animal, it would probably be a lion. Hellacious and fearless, he is a true man of the streets. 

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