When Nelsan Ellis died suddenly on Saturday, his fans were left with more questions than answers.
Now, the True Blood star’s family is opening up about what actually caused his heart to fail. Ellis reportedly struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for years, and those addictions are what ultimately ended his life.
Ellis’ family released a statement detailing the circumstances of his death in hopes that sharing the truth will help others who are fighting similar battles.The statement was released through Ellis’ manager, Emily Gerson Saines.
“Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure,” Saines’ statement reads. “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 continues, “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.”
Ellis was a regular on TV, with his character on True Blood becoming a boundary-breaking character in the portrayal of queer people. Because Ellis’ performance was so well-received by fans, he was kept on for the entire True Blood run even though his character Lafayette was killed off early in the book series The Southern Vampire Mysteries. Hollywood has been shaken by Ellis’ passing.
His True Blood co-stars Anna Paquin, Joe Manganiello, Stephen Moyer and so many more reacted with sadness at the news of his passing over the weekend.
— Anna Paquin (@AnnaPaquin) July 8, 2017
Crushed today by the loss of my friend and castmate Nelsan Ellis. He was a wonderful person, a pioneer, and a one of a kind artist. RIP pic.twitter.com/fvtquhIac7
— JOE MANGANIELLO (@JoeManganiello) July 8, 2017
Nelsan Ellis was truly remarkable. A brilliant, charismatic, intelligent, soulful, wonderful dude. this is just completely tragic.
— Stephen Moyer (@smoyer) July 8, 2017
Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Ellis’ family at this time.