True Blood's Nelson Ellis dies, age 39

Ellis was pronounced dead on July 8 after spending four days in the hospital. His family decided to come forward with details of his death in the hope of saving others.
By Ian Marsh | Jul 13, 2017
True Blood fans were grief-stricken to learn of the death Saturday of series-favorite, Nelson Ellis, who planed Lafayette Reynolds on the show. He died of heart failure.

Ellis's tragic death at age 39 was caused by years of alcohol and drug use, his family told The Hollywood Reporter (THR).

"Nelsans father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan's heart failure," said a statement released through the actor's manager, Emily Gearson Saines. "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."

Ellis was pronounced dead on July 8 after spending four days in the hospital. His family decided to come forward with details of his death in the hope of saving others.

"Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life," the statement said. "His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others."

The beloved actor, whose strong and sensitive portrayal of a gay black man on True Blood won him many accolades, was born in Harvey, Illinois. After attending Oxford University and Columbia College in Chicago, he graduated from the renowned Julliard School, the THR report said.

"We were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Nelson Ellis," said HBO, in a statement. "Nelson was a longtime member of the HBO family whose groundbreaking portrayal of Lafayette will be remembered fondly within the overall legacy of True Blood. Nelson will be dearly missed by his fans and all of us at HBO."

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