Williams, who went by the nickname "Little Melvin," was a drug kingpin in the 1960s, and is regarded as the inspiration for Wood Harris' character Avon Barksdale on the landmark television series.
After leaving the drug trade, Williams went on to work with local pastors. He had a recurring role on The Wire as Deacon, a pastor helping West Baltimore youth. Among those paying respects to the Baltimore icon was series creator David Simon, who tweeted, "RIP to Melvin 'Little Melvin' Williams, 73, who made me begin to rethink the drug war."
RIP to Melvin "Little Melvin" Williams, 73, who made me begin to rethink the drug war. You ended it free, brother. pic.twitter.com/UjtshQAmzz— David Simon (@AoDespair) December 3, 2015
R.I.P. Mr. Williams!