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Nelsan Ellis' father says he died from alcohol withdrawal

Nelsan Ellis' family is coming forward to talk about the late actor's alcohol addiction. 

Ellis' manager, Emily Gerson Saines, shared a statement with the Hollywood Reporter that included information from Ellis' father, who wants Ellis' death to serve as a "cautionary tale" for those struggling with addiction. 

Ellis' father said the "True Blood" star's death from heart failure was due to complications stemming from alcohol withdrawal.

"Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years," said Saines. "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."

HBO announced Ellis' death on Saturday and said, "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," the statement added.

The show's creator and executive producer, Alan Ball, also released a statement Saturday afternoon: "Nelsan was a singular talent whose creativity never ceased to amaze me. Working with him was a privilege."

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