DeAndre McCullough was 35 when he died last week of a suspected drug overdose in Woodlawn. In a city where hundreds OD every year, McCullough’s death is getting a bit more attention than most — because if you ever read (or watched) David Simon’s The Corner, the precursor to The Wire, then you know his story… or part of it, at least.
The irony here is that Simon chose to focus on McCullough in part because his life wasn’t unique or remarkable — at least in some ways. When the two first met, McCullough was a fifteen year-old selling drugs on the corner of Fayette Street, one of the many corner boys that Simon would bring to the attention of Americans in cozy living rooms throughout the country. But though the circumstances of McCullough’s life may have been tragically common, he himself was anything but.
On his (awesome) blog, David Simon tells the story of the DeAndre he knew — and the circumstances that led to his death. The short version is this: after a rough childhood, DeAndre’s life was looking up over the past decade or so: his mother got clean, his best friend became a drug counselor, his son’s mother made a career out of working at a downtown hospital. For periods of time, McCullough himself seemed to be doing well; Simon even got him a behind-the-scenes job on his new series, Treme. But in the end, addiction won out.
As Simon puts it, “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.”
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