Michael Lee is initially a middle school pupil and is friends with Namond Brice, Randy Wagstaff and Duquan "Dukie" Weems. He is more soft-spoken than his friends, and appears to have a leadership role among his peers. Michael acts as a parent to his younger brother Bug. His mother is a drug addict and he avoids any adult interest in his home life because of the precarious nature of his situation. It is strongly implied that he was sexually abused by Bug's father. Because of this, Michael has little trust in the adults in his life and thus goes to Marlo Stanfield's enforcer Chris Partlow and eventually becomes his protege.
Michael is interested in boxing and often works out in a local gym. He distrusts authority figures; he rebuffed both Dennis "Cutty" Wise's offer to train him in boxing and Marlo Stanfield's offer of a cash handout with no apparent strings attached. He tells his friends that he is reluctant to feel like he owes anyone. In order to provide new school equipment for himself and his brother, he temporarily took over Namond's job as a runner for drug dealer Bodie Broadus. Bodie took a strong interest in him and offered to employ him permanently, but Michael turned him down.
Cutty continues to encourage Michael to take an interest in boxing and even takes him to a professional fight. Michael avoids conversation and physical contact with Cutty and refuses a lift to his house after the fight. Marlo also takes an interest in him and orders Chris Partlow to find out more about him. Chris approaches Michael and offers him cash and protection to join the organization. Michael turns down the offer, claiming that he must look out for his family first. Michael also turns down work with Randy delivering fliers on election day and to work with Namond selling drugs.
Michael gets into trouble with his math teacher Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski because he will not do his homework or participate in classroom exercises. Prez gives him detention, which Michael skips in order to pick up Bug from his own school. Prez learns from Randy why Michael did not attend and approaches him directly with an appeal to discuss any problems he might have. Michael begins to work harder in the class and is a quick study when Prez uses games of cards and dice to teach probability. He also completes his homework.
Michael continues to be wary of Cutty when using the boxing gym. He attends a professional fight with Cutty and another trainee named Justin but refuses to let Cutty drive him home after Justin is dropped off. He is suspicious of Cutty's motives when he gets involved with the mothers of boys who use the gym. Cutty continues to try to break down Michael's defenses but Michael remains suspicious of him, later hinting to his friends that he suspects that Cutty is a pederast. This could be because Michael has little trust in adult men due in part to his treatment by his brother Bug's father. When Namond is attacked by rival drug dealers Michael is there to support his friend. However, when Cutty asks Michael what Namond is getting into Michael tells him it is none of their business. Later, at Cutty's gym, Michael beats Namond for teasing Dukie, and runs out, Cutty tells him to never return, but later feels guilty about it. When Cutty decides to apologize and meets up later with Michael, standing on a street corner with other members of Marlo's crew, Michael initially rebuffs him. After Monk coldly shoots Cutty in the leg for not leaving the boy alone, Michael feels sorry and offers to wait until the ambulance comes. Cutty however declines telling Michael to go with the people who injured him, possibly feeling that Michael is now a lost cause.
Over the show's fourth season, Michael evolves from soft-spoken introvert to a cold-blooded killer. When Bug's father is paroled and returns to their home, Michael becomes desperate to get rid of the man. While not stated explicitly, it can be assumed from Michael's reactions that Bug's father sexually abused Michael before going to prison. This is hinted by Michael's distrust in adult males and a rather verbose attitude he displays when subjects involving sexuality are spoken. He asks Randy what would happen if he were to call social services on his stepfather, and Randy, speaking from experience, says that Michael and Bug would be split up and would both be placed in group homes. Out of options, Michael turns to Marlo and Chris for help. Chris kills Bug's father after asking if he likes to "fuck little boys" and telling him that he knows why he is going to be killed, and deviates from his normal style of killing by savagely beating him. Marlo provides Michael and Bug with their own apartment. In return, Michael becomes a drug dealer and soldier in Marlo's operation. Marlo jokingly refers to Michael as Chris's "pup". Trained by Chris and Snoop, he beats rivals and engages in contract killing. While he has moved on to a new life within the drug trade, he nonetheless offers "Dukie" a place to live, although with the apparent price of enlisting Dukie into Marlo's crew.His new life parallels Omar Little as he begins to rip off drug dealers.
|Season 4 appearances|
|"Boys of Summer"||"Soft Eyes"||"Home Rooms"||"Refugees"||"Alliances"|
|"Margin of Error"||"Unto Others"||"Corner Boys"||"Know Your Place"||"Misgivings"|
|"A New Day"||"That's Got His Own"||"Final Grades"|
|Season 5 appearances|
|"More with Less"||"Unconfirmed Reports"||"Not for Attribution"||"Transitions"||"React Quotes"|
|"The Dickensian Aspect"||"Took"||"Clarifications"||"Late Editions"||"–30–"|