Will Smith is publicly mourning the death of actor James Avery, popularly known for his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. On New Year’s eve, the 68-year-old actor passed away in Glendale, California in a nearby hospital after complications from open heart surgery. A source close to the family confirmed that his wife Barbara, was by his bedside the entire time except for a short period and in that time he succumb to his death.
He is most known for his role as Uncle Phil in the popular family sitcom. On Sunday afternoon, Will released his first statement, sharing his sadness. Sharing the last photo that they took together, he wrote:
Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an UnclePhil. Rest in Peace
Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, shared her condolences, writing on Facebook:
Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. 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.
Tatyana Ali, who played Ashley (Uncle Phil’s daughter) on the show, added:
James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We’re feeling his loss very deeply. He’ll always be apart of me#JamesAvery
He survived by his wife, mother Florence Avery, and stepson Kevin Waters.
In lighter Will Smith news, the actor is currently in Dubai and was spotted celebrating singer/actor Tyrese’s birthday. Both Will and Jada were celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary and joined Tyrese’s in his 35th birthday festivities. Both Tyrese and Will took a few in-flight sessions. Check out the footage.