Donnie Andrews used to rob drug dealers with his .44 magnum and was sentenced to life in prison for murder. He served 17 years in prison before his release in 2005. Andrews was the rare person who managed to turn his life around after growing up on the streets.
His life was the inspiration for one of The Wire’s best known characters – Omar Little.
“I don’t have many heroes left,” said David Simon, a former reporter for The Baltimore Sun who co-wrote “The Corner” and created “The Wire.” “Woody Guthrie and Fran, I guess — and I’m not so sure about Woody.”
Fran would be Fran Boyd, a former heroin addict who shoplifted to get from fix to fix, passing her stupors in the shooting gallery and stash house that once was her middle-class home.
The story of Fran and Donnie is widely known to anyone who watched HBO’s The Wire or the documentary The Corner. But their redepmption is less publicized.
On Aug. 11, they are getting married after a lengthy courtship that was as much about turning their lives around as it was about finding each other. Over a decade in the making, their union is a source of inspiration for the grittier parts of West Baltimore, where few people who end up on the corner using and selling drugs manage to break free, and even fewer return to make a difference.
“Donnie and Fran are a street version of Cinderella and Prince Charming, but when they fell in love they didn’t have any magical dust in their eyes,” said the Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church here, who will perform the ceremony. “They also show us something about salvation, since now they’re using their skills from the corner to pull other people through.”