Beloved actor Michael K. Williams will surely be missed by Hip-Hop heads far and wide. His untimely death, despite him not being a musical artist, has left many in the culture heartbroken.
News about his death is just as tragic and shines a sympathetic light on the effects of addiction during COVID.
The New York Post was descriptive in their reporting on his death, coming a hair-strand short of stating that he died of a heroin overdose. However, they did not talk about the struggles the Brooklynite had had before with drugs and how open he was in speaking about his addiction.
Earlier this year on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, Williams talked about his career journey, specifically his role as Omar on “The Wire,” and how working has helped him with his sobriety.
On the podcast, he spoke about what it was like to self-quarantine and wrestled with his demons (along with getting sick) in isolation by focusing on hobbies.
“You know, I’m in the club as well,” Williams said on the “WTF” podcast. “And you know, anybody that has heard me speak before, I’m not shy about it. You know, relapse to me is part of my story and, you know, but I’m living good today, you know. All’s we got is today.”
Later he said on the show, “Being sober doesn’t take away the craziness.”
“Drugs are the symptom of a lot of the problem,” Williams said. “You know, once we put the drugs down, that’s when the work begins because we’ve got to clean up this house, all this garbage.”
“It’s not all roses, and once you put the drug down, it’s happily ever after and life is going to be great,” The Boardwalk Empire star said. “No, there’s a lot of stinking thinking that we need to get rid of and bad bad habits and bad thought processes.”
To Maron, he further revealed that he had contracted COVID-19 but worked through it by cooking for himself, “I truly believe that because I put (exercise) in my program and my daily routine that it gave me a leg to stand on to fight them off.”
According to the American Psychological Association, COVID is particularly difficult for those struggling with addiction and their sobriety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, “13% of Americans reported starting or increasing substance use as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19. Overdoses have also spiked since the onset of the pandemic.”
This was true for rapper DMX, who Williams paid tribute to this spring on the BET Awards.
In 2012, he shared with NJ.com, that his newfound fame had him partying away his newfound wealth “in scary places with scary people.”
“I was playing with fire,” Williams continued. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead. When I look back on it now, I don’t know how I didn’t end up in a body bag.”
“I was broke, broken , and beat up. Exhausted. Empty. I finally said, ‘I can’t do this no more.’ I didn’t want to end up dead,” he prophetically said.