Georgia native Omari Hardwick spent his formative years interested mainly in football, playing as a defensive back for the Furman Purple Paladins, and later for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. It was at UG where Hardwick first took an interest in acting, studying his craft in school and acting in a local theater troupe. Hardwick eventually moved to New York to act on Broadway, and later relocated to L.A. to pursue more on-camera roles. His big break came in 2004, when he was cast in Spike Lee's Sucker Free City, and within a few years, Hardwick was regularly appearing on the drama Saved. He stayed with the show for a season, and later made waves with a starring role in another Spike Lee project, 2008's Miracle at St. Anna. This soon led to a comedic turn in the crime comedy Next Day Air and the action comedy Kick Ass. He co-starred with Dylan McDermott in TNT's television series Dark Blue, in which he played a newlywed struggling to balance married liife with a demanding career in law enforcement (2009-2011), and took on a small role in the critically claimed musical drama Sparkle in 2012.