Will Smith says he has been left shocked and devastated over the sudden death of his The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star James Avery.james-avery-fresh-prince-of-bel-air_1265121326

Avery died in an L.A. hospital last night, after recently undergoing surgery for an undisclosed illness.


Smith was working in Dubai when he found out the news by phone.

“Will was ringing in the New Year with his family when an associate told him the news,” a source said.

“Working with James was a big part of his life.. in fact, James was something of a father figure to Will.

“He’s devastated by the death.. James will be sorely missed.”

Avery played Will’s uncle, Philip Banks, in the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

James’ character  was ranked #34 in TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.