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Family: Alcohol withdrawal lead to actor Nelsan Ellis' death

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/11/2017
FILE - In this June 21, 2011 file photo, Nelsan Ellis arrives at the premiere for the fourth season of HBO's "True Blood" in Los Angeles. Ellis, best known for playing the character of Lafayette Reynolds on "True Blood," has died at the age of 39. Ellis' manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed the actor's death in an email Saturday, July 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this June 21, 2011 file photo, Nelsan Ellis arrives at the premiere for the fourth season of HBO's "True Blood" in Los Angeles. Ellis, best known for playing the character of Lafayette Reynolds on "True Blood," has died at the age of 39. Ellis' manager Emily Gerson Saines confirmed the actor's death in an email Saturday, July 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nelsan Ellis' family says the "True Blood" actor's death was caused by heart failure due to alcohol-withdrawal complications.

The statement was released Monday to The Hollywood Reporter by Ellis' manager, Emily Gerson Saines, on behalf of the family.

It said the actor tried to withdraw from alcohol by himself after years of failed rehab efforts. Ellis died Saturday in New York at age 39.

The actor was ashamed of his drug and alcohol abuse and reluctant to talk about it during his life, the statement said.

Ellis' father, Tommie Lee Thompson, agreed to share the circumstances of his son's death as a cautionary lesson that Ellis would have condoned.

During his withdrawal attempt, the statement said the actor suffered a blood infection, kidney failure and other crises.

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