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James Avery gave moving 2012 UC San Diego graduation speech (Video)

01/02/2014 by Corinne Heller

James Avery, who played Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," died this week at age 68.

More than a year and a half ago, on June 16, 2012, the actor, who played one of television's most memorable 1990s dads, gave an inspirational speech at his alma mater, the University of California, San Diego. Avery, who was a theatre and dance major at the school's Thurgood Marshall College, spoke to about 1,400 graduates and more than 11,000 guests.

He also received the Marshall College Medal, given to individuals who showcase "outstanding individual service to the University and the San Diego community" as well as "artistic or scholarly achievement," according to the school's website.

"You have to understand, see, life itself is a miracle," he said during his speech. "You had to fight to be here, so fighting is what you're gonna continue to do. Just imagine ... you're majoring in stuff that I can't even explain, OK? But you have to realize one thing: Your life is a gift. It's something you fought for. Out of all those millions of little squigglies that had to find the right egg at the right time, you succeeded. OK?"

Watch a video of his entire speech above.

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