Actor Nelsan Ellis's family has shared details about the cause of the "True Blood" star's death. They say that he died because of the swelling of his liver and blood pressure dropping low.
Ellis, known for playing Lafayette Reynolds in "True Blood", died on Saturday of heart failure related to alcohol withdrawal, according to a statement released by his family on Monday. The actor was 39.
According to the family's statement, Ellis had attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own, but had a blood infection that caused his kidneys to "shut down", his liver to swell and his blood pressure to drop, reports variety.com.
Ellis had "suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years", according to the statement. But he was "ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life". The family hopes his life can "serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others".
Ellis was born in Harvey, Ill., and moved to Alabama during his childhood before returning to Chicago. He received his A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Juilliard, and appeared on "True Blood" between 2008 and 2014.
At Ellis's death, HBO said in a statement: "Nelsan was a long-time member of the HBO family whose ground-breaking 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."