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Will Smith Pays Tribute to ‘Visionary and True Pioneer’ Sidney Poitier

Will Smith is paying tribute to the late, great Sidney Poitier.

On Saturday, the 53-year-old actor shared a set of photographs of himself and Poitier on Instagram as he penned a message remembering the late star, who died at age 94.

“An icon, legend, visionary, and true pioneer. Thank you Sidney Poitier for breaking down barriers, creating the path and making it possible for there to be a Will Smith!” the King Richard actor wrote alongside his post.

“Your legacy is eternal,” Smith added. “Rest In Power.”

Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, confirmed Poitier’s death to PEOPLE on Friday. The actor and activist died Thursday evening.

Poitier was the first Black man to receive an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the 1963 film, Lilies of the Field. He is survived by his wife Joanna Shimkus as well as five daughters: Beverly, Pamela, Sherri, Anika, and Sydney (His daughter Gina Poitier died in 2018).

Alongside Smith, other celebrities paid tribute to the late actor following his death as well. Among them included Halle BerryBarack ObamaDenzel WashingtonOprah Winfrey, and his To Sir, with Love costar, Lulu, to name a few.

On Friday, publicist Mara Buxbaum issued a statement to PEOPLE on behalf of the Poitier family.

“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now. We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends,” the statement began. “To us Sidney Poitier was not only a brilliant actor, activist, and a man of incredible grace and moral fortitude, he was also a devoted and loving husband, a supportive and adoring father, and a man who always put family first.”

“He is our guiding light who lit up our lives with infinite love and wonder. His smile was healing, his hugs the warmest refuge, and his laughter was infectious. We could always turn to him for wisdom and solace and his absence feels like a giant hole in our family and our hearts,” the family continued. “Although he is no longer here with us in this realm, his beautiful soul will continue to guide and inspire us. He will live on in us, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren — in every belly laugh, every curious inquiry, every act of compassion and kindness. His legacy will live on in the world, continuing to inspire not only with his incredible body of work, but even more so with his humanity.”

They added: “We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to every single one of you for the outpouring of love from around the world. So many have been touched by our dad’s extraordinary life, his unwavering sense of decency and respect for his fellow man. His faith in humanity never faltered, so know that for all the love you’ve shown him, he loved you back.”

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