Fresh Prince Patriarch James Avery Dead at 68

James Avery Dead at 65James Avery of TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air died on New Year’s Eve, CNN has confirmed. He was 68.

Avery’s publicist told The Associated Press that the actor died following complications from open heart surgery.

Avery’s TV son, Alfonso Ribeiro (aka the Fresh Prince’s cousin Carlton), announced the sad news on Twitter this morning:

Riberio also shared the news and his thoughts via his Facebook page:

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 turn as Fresh Prince‘s Judge Philip Banks and voicing Shredder on the late-’80s/early -’90s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, Avery’s more recent TV credits include episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, Harry’s Law and Sherri Shepherd’s short-lived eponymous sitcom, and a recurring run as The Closer‘s Deputy ME Dr. Crippen.