The 54-year-old Williams, best known for his role as Omar Little, was found dead on Monday, September 6, by family members in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment.
Drug paraphernalia was found at the scene, police said.
His death came as a shock to fans, co-stars and especially his close family.
"He was loved," nephew Arvance Williams said. "Always smiling, always happy, always dancing."
'Wire' actor Michael K. Williams remembered as 'genuine, giving and courageous'
Williams was open about his battle with drug addiction and called it an everyday struggle. He was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in "Lovecraft County."
"A lot of people think that when a person puts down the drugs or the alcohol that all the problems go away," he once said. "That couldn't be further from the truth. Drugs and alcohol are not the problem. They are merely symptoms of the problem."
His family was shocked and devastated.
"Mike was the kind of person, he would fall and get back up, he was always trying to do better," Arvance Williams said.
Another nephew, Booker T. Williams, said his uncle "did everything in his power to show love."
"My family loves him," he said. "He loved our family, our community."
Williams appeared in all five seasons of "The Wire" from 2002 to 2008, his character growing in prominence with each season.
As Little, he played a criminal with a strict moral code, known for taking advantage of a reputation for brutality that wasn't always real. The character also broke TV ground as an openly gay man whose sexuality wasn't central to his role.
Reaction started pouring in across social media as news of Williams' death spread.
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.— Isiah Whitlock Jr. (@IsiahWhitlockJr) September 6, 2021
May you RIP. God bless.
Please God No. I can’t take this pain. Death cannot be this normal.— B.R.O.theR. ?uestion (@questlove) September 6, 2021
All I want for black entertainers is for them to be able to grow old.— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) September 6, 2021
He was proud of the artist he had become, asking for my advice long after he had surpassed any incite I could have shared.Always truthful, never inauthentic. The kindest of persons. Like two mischievous kids, we would laugh & joke whenever we would meet. Like Baltimore years ago pic.twitter.com/d68eaSb8rL— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) September 6, 2021
Williams was raised in East Flatbush at the Vanderveer Estates housing project, now known as Flatbush Gardens. He was the co-founder and an advocate of "We Build the Block."
"He loved the community, he loved Brooklyn, he loved New York," Arvance Williams said.
"Michael K. Williams tried to fix an often broken world," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "He was generous, kind and stood with those fighting for justice. His work, particularly his role in 'The Wire,' was unforgettable and in its own way, life-affirming. We're keeping all who loved him in our hearts tonight."
Williams was also a ubiquitous character actor in other shows and films for more than two decades, including roles on the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" and "Lovecraft Country," and in the films "12 Years a Slave" and "Assassin's Creed."
He is currently nominated for an Emmy for his role in HBO's "Lovecraft Country." A win at the September 19 ceremony would be his first in five nominations, surprisingly none of them for "The Wire."
HBO released the following statement:
"We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years. While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work with him. We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss."
WATCH | Michael K. Williams interviewed on 'Here and Now'
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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