Nelsan Ellis died because of drug and alcohol addiciton — and his family wants the public to know

The family of actor Nelsan Ellis, who died this weekend of heart failure, wants the public to know his health problems were the result of drug and alcohol addiction.

The popular actor is best known for playing Lafayette on HBO’s True Blood. He also starred in The Soloist, The Butler, Get on Up, and Elementary.

His father released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that reveals the actor’s death was the result of alcohol withdrawal, which caused his blood pressure to plummet.

The statement reads:

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, Nelson 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, Nelson 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. Nelson 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.