The 54-year-old actor was discovered unconscious in the living room of his Williamsburg apartment by his nephew on Monday afternoon, a law enforcement source told The New York Post.
Medics rushed to the scene, but declared Williams dead at 2:12pm.
Williams’ nephew went round to the apartment complex to check up on the star, who hadn’t been heard from in several days.
Heroin was reportedly found on the kitchen table, and other drug paraphernalia was discovered elsewhere in the apartment.
Williams had publicly spoken about his struggles with drug addiction on previous occasions.
A police source told The Post: ‘No foul play is indicated. [There was] no forced entry, and the apartment was in order.’
Williams, a five-time Emmy nominee, was best known for his role in HBO’s ‘The Wire’. He played homosexual stick-up man Omar Little in the critically acclaimed series, which ran from 2002 to 2008. President Barack Obama once described ‘The Wire’ as his favorite show and Omar as his favorite character.
Williams went on to star in several other hit series, including Boardwalk Empire and Lovecraft Country – for which he is currently nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The star is survived by a son named Elijah.
The star of ‘The Wire’, actor Michael K. Williams, has been found dead in his New York City apartment. Williams is seen above as Omar Little from The Wire
A law enforcement source confirmed to the New York Post that the 54-year-old he was found in his Brooklyn apartment by his nephew on Monday afternoon. Williams is seen right as a character from the show Boardwalk Empire
Williams was discovered inside his penthouse apartment, located in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. The expensive complex is located on the waterfront and features sweeping views out over to Manhattan
A medical examiner is seen outside the apartment complex on Monday afternoon
A swarm of police officers were also spotted on the scene, after Williams’ nephew purportedly phoned 911 just after 2pm
Williams grew up in the projects of East Flatbush, Brooklyn and spent his childhood surrounded by drugs and violence.
As a young boy, he was sexually molested. He told The New York Times that that experience left him confused about his own sexuality and caused him to be withdrawn.
‘They had two nicknames for me: Blackie and F****t Mike,’ Williams told the Times in 2017.
‘I was very soft, very fragile.’
In 1996, he made his film debut, appearing alongside Tupac Shakur in the film Bullet.
Three years later, he played a drug dealer in Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead.
Williams also landed a brief cameo in the HBO hit show The Sopranos.
He would then land the definitive role for his career, playing Omar Little in The Wire.
An official with the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office is seen above outside Williams’ apartment on Monday
Following the success of The Wire, Williams was cast as Albert ‘Chalky’ White in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
In 2015, Williams was cast as Jack Gee, the husband of Bessie Smith, in the HBO biopic Bessie, which starred Queen Latifah.
Williams was open about his struggles with drug addiction. Since the age of 19, he went in and out of clinics to seek treatment.
In order to make ends meet, he started carjacking, though that led to several arrests.
Williams’ co-star on The Wire, Isiah Whitlock Jr, tweeted: ‘Shocked and saddened by the death of Michael K Williams. One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul. May you RIP. God bless.’
‘Michael K Williams, in addition to being one of the most talented actors around, was also one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met,’ tweeted director James Gunn
Aisha Taylor tweeted: ‘Michael K Williams was a beautiful, passionate, expansive soul’
Former NBA star Rex Chapman tweeted: ‘Devastating. The talent. What a life and career. One of the best television characters of all time. Omar Little. Rest, Michael K Williams…’
On the eve of his 25th birthday, he saw a group of muggers jump one of his friends.
Williams tried to intervene, but one of the assailants pulled out a knife and slashed him across the face and neck.
One gash went straight through his jugular.
The scar has been visible since. It is his most recognizable feature.
The facial scar led to more offers to appear in music videos as a dancer.
Tributes started to pour in for Williams.
‘Michael K Williams, in addition to being one of the most talented actors around, was also one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle souls I’ve ever met,’ tweeted director James Gunn.
‘This is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those who loved him.’
Aisha Taylor tweeted: ‘Michael K Williams was a beautiful, passionate, expansive soul.
‘I felt so lucky to have known him, and we were all so fortunate to have enjoyed his incredible talent. He burned so very bright.
‘Rest in power, MKW. You will forever be The King.’
Former NBA star Rex Chapman tweeted: ‘Devastating. The talent. What a life and career.
‘One of the best television characters of all time. Omar Little.
‘Rest, Michael K Williams…’
Williams’ co-star on The Wire, Isiah Whitlock Jr, tweeted: ‘Shocked and saddened by the death of Michael K Williams.
‘One of the nicest brothers on the planet with the biggest heart. An amazing actor and soul.
‘May you RIP. God bless.’
Even at the height of his fame, Williams struggled with his demons. He entered a church in New Jersey seeking help with drug addiction sometime during the third season of The Wire.
‘When I came through those doors, I was broken. … This was, I would say, around the … third season of The Wire,’ Williams told National Public Radio in 2016.
‘I was on drugs. … I was in jeopardy of destroying everything I had worked so hard for, and I came in those doors, and I met a man who had never even heard of The Wire, much less watched it,’ he said, referring to the pastor.
‘I wrote my full name down – Michael Kenneth Williams – and in the office, [the pastor] turns around, and he says, “So what do you want to be called, man?”
‘I said, “Well, you know, my name is Michael, but I could do Mike.”
‘He says, “Why does everybody say, ‘Omar, Omar’s in trouble?’”
‘And I was like, “Oh, this dude is clueless [about the show]”.’