11/07/2017 09:24 SAST | Updated 11/07/2017 09:24 SAST

Nelsan Ellis Cause Of Death Linked To Alcohol Withdrawal Complications

The family of Nelsan Ellis has released a statement offering more information about the actor's sudden death.

Ellis, best known for playing the lovable short-order cook Lafayette on HBO's "True Blood," died due to "complications with heart failure," his manager, Emily Gerson Saines, first confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday. He was just 39 years old.

On Monday, Saines shared a statement with THR and later with HuffPost from Ellis' family, revealing that the actor struggled for years with alcohol and drug abuse, and suffered multiple health complications during his withdrawal from alcohol. They hope his story can possibly help others dealing with the same addictions.

"Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life," the statement reads. "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, who also had roles in "The Butler," "The Help" and "Veronica Mars," died Saturday after four days at New York's Woodhull Hospital, according to his family's statement.

Fans and friends of the star offered an outpouring of love and support after news broke of his death over the weekend.

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