On Sunday, January 5, Will Smith posted his reaction to James Avery’s death on his personal Facebook page.
“Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace,” Smith wrote. He then added: “This photo was the last time we were together.”
Avery, who played Uncle Phil on the show, was admitted to a hospital in Glendale, CA to undergo open-heart surgery. However, after suffering from complications, from the surgery, Avery passed away on December 31. Avery’s publicist, Cynthia Snyder confirmed his death.
The first former cast member to respond to Avery’s death was Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Uncle Phil’s son Carlton. Ribeiro took to Twitter to pay tribute to Avery and said: “I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly. pic.twitter.com/UrW0EeBFbO
— Alfonso Ribeiro (@alfonso_ribeiro) January 1, 2014
Image via Facebook