James Avery death: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast pay moving tribute to ‘Uncle Phil’

James Avery and Will Smith
James Avery and Will Smith on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Pic credit: NBC

On Thursday, Will Smith and his former castmates on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air delivered a moving tribute to the late James Avery.

Avery played Uncle Phil (Philip Banks) on the popular sitcom that aired on NBC from September 1990 to May 1996.

The moving tribute arrived during the finale episode of Smith’s two-part Snapchat show, Will From Home, where the cast of the hit sitcom came together for the first time since the show ended.

During the chat session, the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air castmates took the time to show their love for James Avery, aka Uncle Phil, who died on New Year’s Eve 2013.

Avery died due to complications following open-heart surgery. He was 68 years old.

James Avery tribute: Cast members  left teary-eyed

The tribute featured clips of Jame Avery’s memorable moments as Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

It proved to be an emotional moment for the former Fresh Prince co-stars, including Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks), Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks), Karyn Parsons (Hilary Banks), Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey Butler), Daphne Maxwell Reid (Vivian Banks), and DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazz).

They were visibly moved (see video below) as they watched the old clips with Uncle Phil.

Teary-eyed, Smith told his co-stars that he always considered Avery and the cast of the show his second family.

The tribute to Avery comes after ABC’s Modern Family paid tribute to actress Marsha Kramer, who died in January at the age of 74.

Fans were also moved by the tribute

Many fans were also moved to tears watching the old clips of Avery as Uncle Phil on the sitcom. They took to Twitter to express their feelings and share nostalgic memories of the show.

James Avery bio

James Avery was born in November 1945 in Suffolk (formerly Pughsville), Virginia.

He joined the U.S. Navy after he left high school and served in Vietnam. He later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and Literature from the University of California at San Diego.

Avery voiced the villain Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series and went on to portray Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

In Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith played a fictional version of himself. He escaped a trouble-filled life on the streets of West Philadelphia by moving in with his uncle and his family at their mansion in the upscale Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air.

The sitcom follows the struggles of the street-raised teenager as he adapts to the genteel lifestyle of his posh relatives.

Avery went on to appear on several other TV shows, including CSI, NYPD Blue, Grey’s Anatomy, and the soap opera, The Young and the Restless.

He suffered from multiple serious health conditions, including type-2 diabetes, kidney and heart diseases.

He died in December 2013 in Glendale, California, due to complications following open-heart surgery.

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