James Avery: Will Smith Honours 'Uncle Phil'

Will Smith has broken his silence over James Avery's death, saying the actor taught him some of his "greatest lessons" on how to be a "respectable human being".

The tribute follows The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air star's death from heart surgery complications on New Year's Eve.

Avery, better known as Uncle Phil, appeared in 141 episodes of Fresh Prince - the show which set Will Smith on the road to becoming one of Hollywood's most popular leading men.

Smith, 45, posted on Facebook : "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."

The comment has so far picked up nearly 1.6 million likes and been shared more than 57,000 times.

Smith also posted up a photograph of the last time the cast of the show were together.

Having served in Vietnam during 1968 and 1969, Avery wrote poetry and television scripts before enjoying a host of acting roles in a large number of films and TV shows.

These included parts in Grey's Anatomy, The Closer and Star Trek: Enterprise, and a voice role in the 1996 movie Happy Gilmore.

The 68-year-old is survived by his wife of 26 years, Barbara, his mother Florence Avery and his stepson Kevin Waters.

Avery's publicist told Sky News last week that a memorial service is being planned for the actor.

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