An American fiction writer and screenwriter known for his gritty, urban work, he is most famous for novels such as Lush Life (2008), The Wanderers (1974), and Clockers (1992). His screenplays include Life Lessons (1989), Mad Dog and Glory (1992), and the Oscar-nominated The Color of Money (1986).
He graduated from Cornell University and went on to receive his MFA in creative writing from Columbia. He later taught writing classes at Yale and New York University.
His novel, Clockers, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
He grew up in a housing project in the Bronx. Later, he married Lorraine Adams.
He did uncredited writing work on the Denzel Washington film, American Gangster.