Uncle Phil: 'Fresh Prince' costars pay tribute to James Avery

Jada Pinkett Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, Tyra Banks and others pay tribute to the late James Avery.

By Kate Stanton
(Wikimedia Commons)

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- James Avery, best known for playing Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, died New Year's Eve of complications following heart surgery. He was 65.

Though Fresh Prince himself has yet to make a public statement, Will Smith's wife took to Facebook to offer condolences.


"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," wrote Jada Pinkett Smith."Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James."

Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton Banks, said he remembered Avery for his love and knowledge of jazz music.

Ribeiro first broke the news of his onscreen father's death via Facebook:

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.


Tatyana Ali, who played Avery's daughter Ashley, also reached out on social media with a statement and a poem by Nikki Giovanni.

"James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor," she wrote. "We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be apart of me."

Tyra Banks, who had a recurring role in the show's fourth season, also spoke out on Twitter.

"Sending condolences to the family of James Avery, "Uncle Phil" of the Fresh Prince. I'll always remember how warm he was to me on set," she wrote.


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