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Will Smith on Late ‘Fresh Prince’ Co-Star James Avery: ‘Every Young Man Needs an Uncle Phil’

Smith’s TV uncle died at age 68 of complications from open-heart surgery

Will Smith has weighed in on the death of his “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” co-star James Avery, who died Dec. 31 at age 68.

The “Men in Black” star expressed his appreciation for Avery, who played Smith’s TV uncle Philip Banks on the 1990s sitcom, saying that Avery provided Smith with some of his greatest lessons on “being a respectable human being.”

Also read: ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Star James Avery Dead at 68

“Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery,” the actor wrote on his Facebook page Sunday. “Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace.”

Smith also included a photo (above) of the last time he was together with Avery.

See photos: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths of 2013

Avery died of complications from open-heart surgery on Dec. 31. Though probably best known for his portrayal of the stern but loving Banks, he continued to act through the years, and recently finished work on the Zach Braff film “Wish I Was Here.”

Smith and Avery’s “Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Banks’ son Carlton on the series, confirmed Avery’s death last week via Twitter, writing, “I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”