James Avery of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Dead at 65

James Avery, known best as Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has reportedly died, following an undisclosed illness. TMZ reports that Avery died Tuesday night at a Los Angeles hospital. He had recently undergone open-heart surgery and reportedly took a turn for the worse during recovery.

Though he is best known for his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air role, Avery also voiced Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series.

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Avery’s son Carlton on Fresh Prince, confirmed the news on Facebook, saying: “The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed. Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.”

Jada Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith played the lead role on the hit ’90s sitcom, took to Facebook to express the Smith family’s condolences: “Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend,” she wrote. “James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed. Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James.”

Avery’s on-screen daughter Tatyana Ali called the late actor her “teacher” and “protector.”

“James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We’re feeling his loss very deeply. He’ll always be apart of me,” Ali wrote on Twitter.

Avery was 65 years old.

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