In shock news over the weekend we heard of the tragic passing, at the way too young age of 39, of ‘True Blood‘ and ‘Elementary‘ star Nelsan Ellis and today the talented actor’s family have revealed information surrounding his battles with addiction which contributed to his untimely death from heart failure.

Mostly known from his powerful portrayal of Lafayette Reynolds in HBO’s beloved ‘True Blood‘ series, Ellis’ passing was a huge shock to his many fans, with his struggles with drugs and alcohol over the past decade, mostly kept out of the spotlight.

Talking for the first time since his loss, Nelsan’s family have spoken to The Hollywood Reporter on the circumstances around his death, revealing they made the decision to publically discuss the actor’s issues and time in rehab “to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.

“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.”

“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.”

Emotional tributes have poured since the news broke, with many sharing the video of a now-iconic scene from ‘True Blood‘, where the uniquely talented Ellis, as Lafayette, turns the table on some homophobic customers.

RIP Nelsan Ellis, you were truly one-in-a-million.

Source: THR.

Photo: True Blood / HBO.

If you or anyone you know requires assistance with drug and/or alcohol issues, you can find a list of local services via the Australian Alcohol & Drug Foundation here.