Marion Barry, the scandal-plagued former mayor of Washington, D.C., who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine before making a surprising return to office, died early on Sunday aged 78.
Before his fall from grace, Barry had been one of the nation’s most promising black politicians. Years later, many Washingtonians would consider him a scoundrel but he remained a hero to many others in impoverished parts of the city, even as his continuing battles with substance abuse went public.
Barry, who was serving as a city councilman, was hospitalized briefly last week and collapsed hours after being released on Saturday night, media reports said. He died at the United Medical Center in Washington, spokeswoman Natalie Williams said. The cause of death was not disclosed.