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Morning Express with Robin Meade

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'Fresh Prince' co-stars remember James Avery

  • James Avery played 'Uncle Phil' on hit show
  • The actor died Tuesday of complications from open heart surgery
File photo:  Actor James Avery arrives at the Palm Pre Launch Event to Benefit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America held at Raleigh Studios on June 3, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

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:

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. 

Morning Express with Robin Meade airs Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. ET on HLN. Like the show on Facebook, and follow on Twitter: @MorningExp.

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