The world was shocked to learn on Saturday that True Blood star Nelsan Ellis had died. While it was just reported at the time of the initial report that the actor had passed “after complications with heart failure,” his family is now speaking out on the exact cause of his death and the specific moments leading up to it.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ellis’s family revealed, through his manager, Emily Gerson Saines, that the actor did die of heart failure as a result of alcohol withdrawal complications.
Ellis, who played fan-favorite Lafayette Reynolds on the hit HBO drama, had struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years. The struggle unfortunately led to a tragic ending for the 39-year-old.
The family released a statement via Saines to the publication detailing the painful moments that led up to his untimely passing in hopes that it would help others who may be struggling with addiction.
“Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure,” it reads. “Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years. After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.”
The statement continued, detailing the moment he died while being treated at the hospital.
“On the morning of Saturday July 8, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead,” it continued. “Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul. He was a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, and a great friend to those that were lucky enough to know him. Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”