Actor and star of True Blood Nelsan Ellis passed away Saturday after complications from heart failure. He was only 39 years old.
Circumstances revolving his death were unclear when news first broke of the actor’s death. But now, his family has revealed what happened in hopes of helping others who struggle with addiction.
His family released the following to THR:
Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure. 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.
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.
On True Blood, Ellis played Lafayette Reynolds. Reynolds was a short order cook at Merlotte’s, a drug dealer, a member of Jason Stackhouse’s road crew and Tara Thorntons’s cousin. In the books, he was killed off at the beginning of the second novel in the series. But because Ellis made the character such an enjoyable character, he survived the television series.
“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO said in a statement on Saturday. “Nelsan was a longtime 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.”