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    Will Smith Pays Tribute to James Avery: "Everyone Needs an Uncle Phil"

    Will Smith, James Avery, Facebook Will Smith/Facebook

    Will Smith is paying tribute to his former TV uncle and one of his biggest mentors in life.

    The 45-year-old actor took to Facebook to honor the late James Avery, his former costar on the hit '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, in a touching post which remembered the 68-year-old star for the ways in which he was a father figure to the cast both on and offscreen.

    "Some of my greatest lessons in Acting, Living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery," the Men In Black star wrote. "Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace."

    NEWS: James Avery dead at 68

    James Avery, Will Smith Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

    The heartfelt post included a photo of the Fresh Prince family, including Tatyana Ali, who played daughter Ashley, Karyn Parsons, who played daughter Hilary, and Alfonso Ribeiro, who played preppy son Carlton, which he captioned, "This photo was the last time we were together."

    But Smith wasn't the only member of the Banks family to remember their TV father. Ribeiro took to Twitter shortly after Avery's passing, writing, "I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly."

    And Tatyana Ali also shared her sentiments on the social media site, tweeting, "James was my teacher my protector & the most magnificent actor. We're feeling his loss very deeply. He'll always be a part of me #JamesAvery."

    NEWS: Jada Pinkett Smith pays tribute to James Avery

    Avery died Tuesday, Dec. 31 at a Los Angeles hospital due to complications from open-heart surgery.

    He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Barbara Avery; step-son Kevin Waters; and his mother, Florence Avery.

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