Will Smith: ‘Every man needs an Uncle Phil’

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LOS ANGELES – After the passing of James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ Will Smith is breaking his silence.

On Tuesday, Avery’s publicist confirmed his passing.

He was 65-years-old.

Smith posted a picture on Facebook, saying, “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.”

His “Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro tweeted news of Avery’s passing.

“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” Riberio tweeted. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.

A classically trained actor and poet, Avery grew up in Atlantic City, N.J., where he was raised by a single mother.

He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and first appeared onscreen as a dancer in an uncredited role in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”