Will Smith Mourns James Avery: “Every Young Man Needs an Uncle Phil”

Robert Kessler / January 6, 2014

Following the tragic and somewhat sudden death of James Avery last week, Will Smith has taken to Facebook to memorialize his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star. Avery played Smith’s guardian Uncle Phil for six seasons on the show and had an impact on Smith off-camera as well.

“Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery,” Smith wrote. “Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace.” Alongside the post, Smith shared a photo of himself and Avery with their Fresh Prince co-stars Alfonso RibeiroKaryn Parsons and Tatyana Ali. The photo was taken in December 2011, at a charity event.

Avery passed away Dec. 31 at the age of 65 after suffering complications during open heart surgery.