Sidney Poitier‘s family is remembering the beloved Oscar-winning actor following his death.
The star died at the age of 94, the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office confirmed to Fox News Digital on Friday. Prime Minister of the Bahamas Philip Davis also held a press conference on Friday morning where he remembered the film icon as an “actor and film director, an entrepreneur, civil and human rights activist and, latterly, a diplomat.”
Following tributes from countless celebrities and high-profile figures across the world, his family is remembering the groundbreaking actor on Friday not just for his professional achievements, but also as a man “who put family first.”
“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 shared with Fox News Digital begins.
“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 statement continues.
“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,” the statement continues. “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.
“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,” the statement concludes.
Prime Minister Davis said on Friday that the Bahamas is “in mourning.” He instructed the Bahamian flag be flown at half-mast “at home and in our embassies around the world.
Poitier also received tributes from Hollywood icons Halle Berry and Denzel Washington following his passing. Berry, 55, began a Twitter tribute to Poitier with a quote from his 2008 book “Life Beyond Measure“: “A tiny bit of myself is lost when my friends are gone.”
“My dear Sidney, an enormous part of my soul weeps at your passing,” Berry continued in her own words. “In your ninety-four years on this planet, you left an indelible mark with your extraordinary talent, paving the way for Black people to be seen and heard in the fullness of who we are.”
Poitier was the first Black actor to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actor in a leading role in 1959 before later becoming the first Black man to win that award in 1964 for his work in “Lillies of the Field.”
“You were an iconic trailblazer; yours was a life well lived,” Berry continued. “I grew up idolizing you and will always remember the day when I first met you. It is the only time in my life when I’ve been rendered speechless! There I sat, with my words glued together, and you were as gracious and charming then as you would be during our decades of friendship to follow.”
The actress concluded: “Rest in peace, beloved Sidney. You are and always will be the true measure of a man.”
Berry’s tribute is a significant one, as nearly 40 years after Poitier’s Oscar win, her own made her the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for playing a lead character.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Denzel Washington said: “It was a privilege to call Sidney Poitier my friend. He was a gentle man and opened doors for all of us that had been closed for years. God bless him and his family.”
Poitier remained the only Black man to win an Oscar for a leading role until Denzel Washington nabbed the same award for his work in “Training Day” in 2002.
Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte both paid their respects to the actor.
“All of us who have walked in the shadow of Sidney Poitier owe him so much,” Glover said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“For over 80 years, Sidney and I laughed, cried and made as much mischief as we could. He was truly my brother and partner in trying to make this world a little better. He certainly made mine a whole lot better,” Belafonte told Fox News Digital.
Poitier was born in 1927 in Miami, Florida, PBS shared. The star grew up in the small village of Cat Island, Bahamas. His father, a tomato farmer, moved his family to the capital when Poitier was 11. At a young age, Poitier was captivated by cinema and, at age 16, he moved to New York. He found work as a dishwasher and soon after, became a janitor for the American Negro Theater in exchange for acting lessons.
It was there where Poitier was given the role of understudying Belafonte in “Days of our Youth.” Poitier made his public debut while filling in one night. Afterward, he earned a small role in the Greek comedy “Lysistrata.” Poitier continued to perform in plays until 1950 when he made his film debut in “No Way Out.”
As one of the most beloved stars of Hollywood’s golden era, Poitier made his mark with films like “A Raisin in the Sun,” (1961) “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967) and “Uptown Saturday Night,” (1974), among others.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco and Nate Day and The Associated Press contributed to this report.