By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
The family of trailblazing actor Sidney Poitier say the loss of the “guiding light” has left “a giant hole our hearts”.
Aside from his talent and activism, the actor was “a man who always put family first,” the Poitier family said.
The Bahamian-American actor, the first black man to win the Oscar for best actor, died at the age of 94 surrounded by his family.
“There are no words to convey the deep sense of loss and sadness we are feeling right now,” they said in a statement shared by US news outlets.
“We are so grateful he was able to spend his last day surrounded by his family and friends.
“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.
“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.”
Poitier was known for films including In The Heat Of The Night, Blackboard Jungle and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner among a catalogue of others.
Tributes to his life and career flooded in from famous faces including US president Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris, former president Barack Obama and TV chat show host Oprah Winfrey.
Artists of colour including Quincy Jones, Halle Berry and Lenny Kravitz also thanked him for his pioneering work for diversity within the industry.
“We would like to extend our deepest appreciation to every single one of you for the outpouring of love from around the world,” his family continued.
“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.”