Nelsan Ellis attends Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' New York Premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York, NY, on August 5, 2013.

Anthony Behar/SIPA USA

The Family of Actor Nelsan Ellis Release Statement on Drug & Alcohol Addiction

The actor died over the weekend at just 39 years old

July 11, 2017

Nelsan Ellis, one of the stars of HBO's True Blood and CBS's Elementary, died over the weekend of heart failure. He was just 39 years old. Now, his family is coming out and saying that Nelsan's death was directly related to alcohol withdrawal.

Nelsan’s manager, Emily Gerson Saines, says that the family talked openly about his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse for years. After many stints in rehab, the actor tried to quit alcohol on his own, triggering complications that led to heart failure and ultimately his death. In hopes of helping those with similiar struggles, Ellis's family released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. According to the statement, Ellis had a blood infection while attempting to detox on his own. His kidneys shut down, his blood pressure plummeted, his liver became swollen, and his heart raced out of control. The family is hopeful that those struggling with addiciton will see the actor's death as a sign to seek help.

Ellis made a splash as the flamboyant Lafayette on the HBO vampire series True Blood. In fact, the character was killed off very early on in the book series that the show was based on, but Ellis was such a fan favorite that HBO kept the character alive in the television adaptation.