Actor Nelsan Ellis, who passed away on Saturday, died from heart failure brought on by alcohol withdrawal, the actor's family says

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 39-year-old Ellis was attempting to quit alcohol. Emily Gerson Saines, the actor's manager, said that Ellis had struggled with alcohol and drug addiction.

“Nelsan’s father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan’s heart failure,” Saines said in a statement. “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 the Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead,” she added.

“Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life,” Saines added. “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 is best known for playing the flamboyant Lafayette Reynolds on HBO's vampire drama True Blood. The series was created by Alan Ball, who is openly gay, and included many gay and bisexual characters. (Ball once said that most vampires are inherently bisexual.)

Ellis was a strong supporter of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage.

“If you want to get married to a man then get married to a man,” Nelsan told Vibe in 2010. “If two women want to get married they should get married. It’s not hurting me. The beautiful thing about this country is that I can be a Christian and feel free to do so. Or somebody cannot be a Christian and do whatever that entails. Or somebody can be a Christian and still be gay and I support it. Let gay people get married.”