‘True Blood’ star Nelsan Ellis cause of death tied to alcohol withdrawal complications, family says

FILE - In this June 21, 2011 file photo, Nelsan Ellis arrives at the premiere for the fourth season of HBO's "True Blood" in Los Angeles. Ellis, best known for playing the character of Lafayette Reynolds on "True Blood," has died at the age of 39. Ellis' manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed the actor's death in an email Saturday, July 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

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FILE - In this June 21, 2011 file photo, Nelsan Ellis arrives at the premiere for the fourth season of HBO's "True Blood" in Los Angeles. Ellis, best known for playing the character of Lafayette Reynolds on "True Blood," has died at the age of 39. Ellis' manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed the actor's death in an email Saturday, July 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

Actor Nelsan Ellis’ heart failure was brought on by complications from withdrawing from alcohol, his family says.

In a release to The Hollywood Reporter, Ellis' family spoke about the exact circumstances around the actors death.

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The "True Blood" actor struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years, according to his family. His last attempt to withdraw form alcohol on his own led to his death at age 39 on Saturday.

The statement was released through Ellis’ manager, Emily Gerson Saines, in effort to help others who may be struggling with addiction.

Related: ‘True Blood’ star Nelsan Ellis dies at 39

"Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years. After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own," the release said. "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 was best known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds on “True Blood.” He also starred in “The Butler,” “Get On Up” and “The Soloist.

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