Social media is lighting up with condolences and tributes to actor James Avery, who played the tough but lovable Uncle Phil on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
Avery, 68, died Tuesday night of complications from open heart surgery, according to his publicist.
Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Uncle Phil's son, Carlton, on the hit show, tweeted:
I'm deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly. pic.twitter.com/UrW0EeBFbO
— Alfonso Ribeiro (@alfonso_ribeiro) January 1, 2014
Joseph Marcell, who played the butler Geoffrey on the show, said Avery wanted Uncle Phil to be someone that everybody wanted as their uncle.
Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of "Fresh Prince" star Will Smith, posted their condolences on her Facebook page:
“Happy New Year everyone! I was hoping to start the new year differently but we have lost yet another friend. James Avery who we all lovingly know as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince has passed. Rest in peace James.”
Avery also served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He leaves behind his wife of 26 years, Barbara; his mother, Florence Avery; and his stepson, Kevin Waters.