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

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.