Many people were shocked when news hit that True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis died on Saturday. The man who played Lafayette Reynolds in the vampire show was only 39 years old. Now, more details on his death have been released to The Hollywood Reporter and, apparently, Ellis suffered from drug and alcohol abuse for years. His death from heart failure is reportedly linked to withdrawals from the substance.
Ellis’ family released a statement through his manager Emily Gerson Saines. It read, “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.”
The statement goes on to say that Ellis was a generous and kind person. He avoided talking about his addiction because he was ashamed, but his family believes “that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”
You can check out the full statement over at The Hollywood Reporter. Ellis is survived by his son, Breon Ellis; his father, Tommie Lee Thompson; and his grandmother, Alex Brown. He’s also survived by seven siblings and an aunt.