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‘True Blood’ Actor Died Due to Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, According to Family

Nelsan Ellis had two projects in the pipeline at the time of his death. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

After the death of “True Blood” actor Nelsan Ellis was announced, his family has issued a statement detailing the circumstances surrounding his passing.

Ellis, known for his portrayal as Lafayette Reynolds, reportedly died of heart failure complications Saturday, July 8 due to a private battle that raged on for years.

“Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’ s heart failure. Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years,” the family said in a statement issued to The Hollywood Reporter through the late 39-year-old’s manager, Emily Gerson Saines, Monday, July 10. “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.

“On the morning of Saturday, July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. 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.”

Ellis, whose other credits include the CBS series “Elementary” and 2014’s “Get On Up” is survived by his grandmother, father, son, aunt and seven siblings.

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