TORONTO — Actor Will Smith made his first public statement on Sunday about the passing of his The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air uncle, James Avery.
Avery died on Dec. 31 from complications from open heart surgery. He was 68.
“Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery,” Smith wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page. “Every young man needs an Uncle.”
The message was accompanied by a recent photo of Smith with Avery and Fresh Prince co-stars Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons and Tatyana Ali.
Avery played Philip Banks on the sitcom for six seasons starting in 1990.
Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith commented on the loss of Avery on Jan. 1.
“I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend,” she wrote on Facebook. “Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James.”