James Avery was suffering severe health problems before his death.

The 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' actor died from complications following open heart surgery on December 31 aged 68, but his death certificate notes he had other health issues before he died.

The document, obtained by TMZ.com, states James was suffering with severe coronary heart disease and end-stage kidney disease as well as type-2 diabetes at the time of his passing.

James died around seven weeks after the surgery, at a hospital in Glendale, California, leaving behind his wife, Barbara.

He has since been cremated and his remains were scattered in the sea off the coast of Los Angeles.

After his passing a host of stars who had worked with James on various shows including 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Star Trek' paid tribute.

Will Smith thanked him for his mentorship during his early career when he played the lead character in 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air' and James was his loveable Uncle Phil.

He said: ''Some of my greatest lessons in acting, living and being a respectable human being came through James Avery. Every young man needs an Uncle Phil. Rest in Peace.''

Their co-star in the show, Alfonso Ribeiro, who portrayed Carlton Banks, said: ''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.''