Alfonso Ribiero said that while James Avery played his television father for much of the 1990s, in real life the actor was something of a second father to him.
Ribiero was the first to break news of Avery’s death, tweeting a message to fans on New Year’s Day that the man who played Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had passed away.
Ribiero is one of many stars now mourning Avery’s death. The actor who played goofy cousin Carlton Banks posted a picture of Avery on his Facebook page along with the note:
“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.”
Ironically, last year it was Alfonso Ribiero who was the subject of death rumors on Facebook. The former Fresh Prince of Bel Air star saw a Facebook memorial page pop up and get thousands of likes as well as some attention from concerned fans.
Though the fake report followed in a line of other false death rumors — including ones that struck Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, and Adam Sandler — it fooled many fans, prompting tweets of sympathy using the hashtag #RIP.
The rumors seemed to amuse Alfonso Ribiero.
I guess FB has a page saying I died. I wonder what people are gonna say at my funeral???
— Alfonso Ribeiro (@alfonso_ribeiro) September 8, 2012
Alfonso Ribiero took to Twitter again after James Avery died, telling fans how important the man was to him.
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
Alfonso Ribiero was not the only one mourning James Avery’s death. Fellow star Will Smith also shared condolences on Twitter through his wife Jada Pinkett Smith.