“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” Alfonso Ribeiro, who played his son, Carlton, on the hit sitcom, Tweeted Wednesday. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.”
The New Jersey-born star had recently undergone surgery for an undisclosed illness and passed away at an L.A. hospital, TMZ reports.
In addition to playing Smith’s beloved uncle, Avery guest-starred on That ’70s Show, CSI, The Closer and Grey’s Anatomy.
Tatiana Ali, who played Avery’s daughter on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, also Tweeted about her TV dad’s passing, saying, “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.”
And while Will Smith has yet to release a statement, his musical partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff, who also appeared on the show, Tweeted, “RIP James Avery…Thank U for the talks, travel tips and jazz cd’s. A great Friend and Even Better Person…You will be Missed!! #FPOB”