Nelsan Ellis’ addiction to drugs and alcohol led to his death, family says

Nelsan Ellis arrives on the red carpet at the world premiere of "Get On Up" in New York City on July 21, 2014. The actor died during the weekend at the age of 39. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

July 10 (UPI) — Nelsan Ellis’ family is offering more details regarding the “True Blood” icon’s unexpected death from heart failure during the weekend.

“Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years. 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,” his loved ones said in a statement released by his manager to The Hollywood Reporter Monday.

“On the morning of Saturday July 8, 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’ film credits include “The Soloist,” “The Butler” and “Get on Up.” He also recently co-starred on the detective drama, “Elementary.”

“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO said in a statement to People magazine Saturday. “Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose groundbreaking portrayal of Lafayette will be remembered fondly within the overall legacy of ‘True Blood.’ Nelsan will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO.”

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