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'Fresh Prince' Stars Pay Tribute To Late Co-Star James Avery

Victor Smith Victor Smith
January 2nd, 2014 9:05pm EST

James Avery

Tatyana Ali and Alfonso Ribeiro paid tribute to their Fresh Prince of Bel Air co-star James Avery following his death on December 31, but the show's star, Will Smith, has yet to issue a public statement about the passing of his on-screen uncle.

Smith, whose wife, Jada Pinkett, posted a message on her facebook page, is reportedly devastated by Avery's passing, according to website Showbiz Spy.

"Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend," Pinkett, who met her husband on the set of the show when she was there to audition for a part (she didn't get it), wrote on Facebook. "James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed. Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James."

Ali, who played Avery's daughter Ashley Banks, tweeted, "James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be apart of me."

Ribiero tweeted the news of Avery's death early on New Year's Day, 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."

Model Tyra Banks, who guest starred in nine episodes of the show, wrote, "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."

"James Avery was a very funny and smart man," wrote actor/director Zach Braff. "He did a cameo as a favor to me in WIWH ("Wish I Was Here") and had the entire set rolling with laughter. RIP."

Avery died from complications from open heart surgery in November. He was 68.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

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