Nelsan Ellis struggled with alcohol addiction prior to his death.
The actor — who was most known for his role as Lafayette Reynolds in the hit HBO supernatural drama “True Blood” from 2008 until the series ended in 2014 — tragically passed away on Saturday, July 8, at the age of 36 after suffering from complications from heart failure.
Now, his father Tommie Lee Thompson has revealed the failure of Ellis’ heart came as he attempted to “withdraw from alcohol,” which led to his heart “racing out of control.”
A statement released by Nelsan’s manager Emily Gerson Saines and obtained by the Hollywood Reporter read, “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.”
The star’s family now hopes his death will serve as a “cautionary tale” for others who are battling addictions.
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.”
After Nelsan’s passing, HBO released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter confirming the sad news, as they said he would be “dearly missed.”
The statement read, “We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelsan Ellis. 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.”
Nelsan is survived by his father; grandmother, Alex Brow; and his son, Breon Ellis.