Will Smith’s Father Dies, Ex-Wife Praises his Work Ethic in Touching Instagram Memorial

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Will Smith (Walmart/Flickr)
Will Smith (Walmart/Flickr)

The father of actor Will Smith passed away Monday. The star’s ex-wife, Sheree Fletcher, revealed the passing of Willard Carroll Smith Sr. on Instagram.

“We’re gonna miss you Daddio!” the TV personality wrote Nov. 8. “You lived & played by your own rules…you truly were 1 of a kind! You instilled discipline and a work ethic that has created a legacy in your honor!”

The accompanying photo includes the 48-year-old actor/producer – whose real name is Willard Smith Jr. – and his son Willard Smith III – known as Trey. The late Will Smith Sr. is on the right.

The Concussion star has yet to make any public statements on his father’s passing, but he spoke of him in past interviews.

“Dad was tough but not tyrannical,” Smith reportedly told Essence of his dad’s parenting style with him and his three siblings. “He kept me in line. He’d get this look that said, ‘One more step, Will, and it’ll get ugly.’ ”

According to Will Smith: A Biography, the elder Smith – a U.S. Air Force veteran – would drive his son around harsh Philadelphia neighborhoods to deter him from drug use.

It seemed to work. Smith Jr. is quoted in the book as saying if he ever turned to drugs, “I felt my father would kill me. Literally.”

Still, the actor — who is now married to Jada Pinkett-Smith — praised his father for giving him inspiration on how to raise his own children.

“I look at my father and how he was able to keep four kids fed and clothed and still managed to find time to spend with us,” Smith said of his dad, who worked as a refrigerator engineer.

Fans flocked to Fletcher’s Instagram page to offer their condolences.

@mai_makeover had a particularly personal story about Smith Sr. She noted he “was very humble…treated everyone with dignity and respect.”
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Howie Stacy – the cousin of Smith Jr.’s kids Jaden and Willow Smith – posted a tribute to the late Smith. He revealed he met the actor’s dad at a family reunion over the summer this year.

“Glad I had the chance to meet Will Smith Sr., he said.

 

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