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Will Smith pays tribute to James Avery

FINAL SHOT: Will Smith, far right, posted this image of the Fresh Prince cast in an online tribute to the late James Avery, second right

HOLLYWOOD STAR Will Smith has paid tribute to the late James Avery, whom he acted alongside on the popular 1990s comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Avery, who played Uncle Phil in the hit show that ran for six years from 1990, passed away on New Year’s Eve following complications from open heart surgery.

Smith was one of the last stars of the Fresh Prince to express words of respect over the passing, following messages last week from Alfonso Ribeiro and Tatyana Ali.

Writing on his official Facebook page, the Men In Black actor said: “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.”

Accompanied with the post on the social media site was an image of some of the cast members from the series, and, in a caption, Smith added: “This photo was the last time we were together.”

Avery, 68 when he died, had been working on a Zach Braff film project until September last year, according to his publicist.

His on-screen wife on the Fresh Prince also expressed her sadness about the actor's death.

In a written statement, actress Janet Hubert said: "Acting with James was like a great doubles match!

"He was one of the best actors I have worked with in my many years.

"He was like a big strong boulder, that could either crush you or shield you."

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