On Saturday, True Blood actor Nelsan Ellis died in Brooklyn of heart failure at just 39 years old. Now his family is speaking out about the full story of what happened, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Ellis died from complications from alcohol withdrawal.

Ellis struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years, and attempted to detox from alcohol without the help of medical professionals.

To help others who may be struggling, his family released this statement through his manager:

"Nelsan's father has bravely agreed for me to share the circumstances of Nelsan's heart failure. 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."

Ellis was best known for playing fan-favorite character Lafayette Reynolds on HBO's True Blood.

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