Some sad news to start 2014. ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s patriarch James Avery has died at the age of 68.
According to TMZ, the actor, known for portraying Uncle Phil to Will Smith’s character on the ‘90s hit comedy and father to Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton), Karyn Parsons (Hilary) and Tatyana Ali (Ashley), checked into a Los Angeles hospital for open heart surgery. Reportedly, Avery’s status worsened after the surgery, and he died from complications last night on New Year’s Eve.
Fans first heard of the news this morning after Ribeiro tweeted about his TV father’s passing, “I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
Ribeiro also continued to share his thoughts via Facebook, “The world has lost a truly special man. I am very saddened to say that James Avery has passed. Even though he played my father on TV, he was a wonderful father figure to me in life. He will be deeply missed.”
In addition to his portrayal of Philip Banks, who was a strict, loving and caring father to his children and Will, Avery’s more recent roles consisted of Sam on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ Fred Billings on ‘Harry’s Law,’ and he also had a recurring role as Dr. Crippen on TNT’s ‘The Closer.’
CORRECTION: We previously reported Avery died at 65. He was 68.