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Will Smith remembers James Avery, shares last photo

01/06/2014 by Corinne Heller

Will Smith says James Avery, who played his character's Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," taught him some of the "greatest lessons," in what marks the actor's first public remarks about his former colleague, who died on New Year's Eve.

Smith, 45, made his comments on his Facebook page on Sunday and also shared a photo of himself with Avery and co-stars Tatyana Ali (Ashley), Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton) and Karyn Parsons (Hilary) (see it above).

"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. 'This photo was the last time we were together (sic),'" Smith said.

Avery, whose "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" character remains one of the most beloved and memorable television dads, died on Dec. 31 at age 68 due to complications from open heart surgery. Ali and Ribeiro, as well as Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith, issued condolence messages about the actor's death last week.

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