Stars Pay Tribute To James Avery

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January 2, 2014 | 7:25am EST

James Avery’s famous friends, fans and former colleagues have paid tribute to The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air star following his death on Tuesday.
The actor, who played Uncle Phil in the popular 1990s sitcom, died following complications from open heart surgery, and the sad news has prompted an outpouring of grief among his friends and co-stars.
Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who met on the set of the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, were among the first to send their condolences to Avery’s family, with Jada writing in a post on, “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. Our condolences to aunt Florence (his mother), Miss Barbara (his wife) and all those who loved him. Rest in peace James.”
Another star of the show, Tatyana Ali, who played Avery’s onscreen daughter, adds in a post on, “James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We’re feeling his loss very deeply. He’ll always be apart of me,” while model/actress Tyra Banks, who also had a role in the comedy, writes, “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.”
Iron Man 2 star Don Cheadle, who appeared in the show during the early days of his career, adds, “Condolences to the Avery family. Very sad.”
Other stars to offer tributes include Scrubs actor Zach Braff, who directed Avery in upcoming film Wish I Was Here, which will premiere later this month at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Braff writes, “James Avery was a very funny and smart man. He did a cameo as a favour to me in WIWH (Wish I Was Here) and had the entire set rolling with laughter. RIP.”