Since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s James Avery’s passing, everyone has been wondering when his co-star, Will Smith, would comment on his death and close relationship with the 68-year-old thespian. On the sitcom, which ran from 1990 to 1996, Avery played the patriarch of the house, and a constant figure in his nephew Will’s life.
Avery’s role as Uncle Phil truly made an impact on the African American community as a strong cultural figure on primetime television, especially given its time. For Smith’s character Will, Avery’s Uncle Phil was the first father-son relationship for the troubled youth, and was a positive example of a man with enormous kindness, dedication, and hardworking ethics. The relationship between Will and Uncle Phil transitioned off-screen as well.
About Avery’s passing, Will Smith praised the character of Uncle Phil and the man behind the compassionate archetype. Writing a touching tribute to the actor, Smith broke his silence.
“Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace.”
Smith posted a photo of some of the cast members during their reunion which happened a few years ago. In the caption Smith wrote: “This photo was the last time we were together.” So far Will Smith’s post memorializing James Avery has well over a million Facebook likes and is close to hitting the two million mark.
As reported, James Avery passed away on December 31, 2013 in Glendale, California following complications of open-heart surgery at the age of 68. Shortly after rumors of his death surfaced, his other Fresh Prince co-star, Alfonso Ribeiro, who played the actor’s son on the show, confirmed the news with a tweet.
In the tweet, Ribeiro wrote:
“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
In addition to Avery’s role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air he also appeared on several television series including The Closer, Sherri, That ’70s Show, Sparks, Iron Man and Aladdin.