The 45-year-old actor shared a photo of the last time he was with his on-screen uncle, and wrote, “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.”
On Dec. 31, James passed away from complications following an open-heart surgery; he was 68. The late actor was best known for playing Uncle Phil, fictionalized Will’s upper class, strict uncle and Banks family patriarch who took the rebellious Will in after he got in trouble in his native Philadelphia.
In the days since his passing, many of James’ Fresh Prince costars have reached out to honor the television giant. Based on their reaction, it seems that the late star affected everyone that came on set, from the Alfonso Ribiero, Tatyana Ali and Ross Bagley—who all played his children—to Tyra Banks, who had a recurring role.
See what they had to say about James’ passing.
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 (@alfonsoribeiro) January 1, 2014
James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be apart of me #JamesAvery— Tatyana Ali (@TatyanaAli) January 1, 2014
RIP James Avery...Thank U for the talks,travel tips and the jazz cd's. A great Friend and Even Better Person...You will be Missed!! #FPOB— Mr Vinyl Destination (@djjazzyjeff215) January 1, 2014
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.— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) January 2, 2014
I am deeply saddened by the news of James Avery passing, he was a great man first and actor second. He will be missed....smh— Ross Bagley (@BossRagley) January 1, 2014