True Blood star Nelsan Ellis died from complications of alcohol withdrawal, his family revealed in a statement shared with Us Weekly on Monday, July 10.
“Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure,” said the late actor’s manager, Emily Gerson Saines. “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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
As previously reported, the actor, who also appeared in The Soloist, The Butler, Get on Up and Elementary, was 39.
“We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis,” HBO said in a statement on Saturday, July 8. “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.”
Ellis’ costars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer shared touching tributes on social media as well. “It was an utter privilege to work with the phenomenally talented and deeply kind soul .@OfficialNelsan I’m devastated by his untimely death,” Paquin tweeted on Saturday.
Ellis starred as the scene-stealing short-order cook Lafayette on the hit drama until its series finale in August 2014. He is survived by his son, Breon, and seven siblings: Lakeeia Thomson, Tommie Lee Thompson, Babon Ellis, Maurice Turne, Tianna Thompson, Shaentika Beard and Yvonne Ellis.
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