Fans were shocked that Nelsan Ellis, the 39-year-old actor who starred on HBO’s “True Blood,” died of heart failure.

His family revealed to Hollywood Reporter on Monday that complications from alcohol withdrawal was the underlying cause of his untimely death.

Ellis’ father shared the circumstances to the outlet through the actor’s manager Emily Gerson Saines. In a statement, the family said Ellis had a longtime drug and alcohol addiction. After trying rehab many times, he attempted to wean himself off alcohol.

During the withdrawal process, Ellis developed a blood infection, kidney failure, swollen liver, and falling blood pressure. His father said that his son’s “dear sweet heart raced out of control.”

Ellis was pronounced dead on Saturday following a four-day stay at Woodhull Hospital.

Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life,” the statement said. “His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”

The family will remember him as “a gentle, generous and kind soul.”

Ellis, a native of Harvey, Ill., graduated from the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City. He had numerous roles in TV and film, including “The Butler” and “The Help.” He played the beloved character Lafayette in True Blood, which earned him acclaim.

SOURCE:  Hollywood Reporter

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