BY JAKE PAINE • JULY 2, 2018
Will Smith name-checking West Philadelphia in the theme song to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air took a city section with a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a no-nonsense reputation and made it known—at least by name—in the mainstream. From the Overbrook neighborhood, Smith and business partner James Lassiter named their production company after the part of town around Lancaster Avenue.
Although Smith moved his career and family to Southern California decades ago, the 49-year-old Overbrook High School graduate regularly returns home for work and pleasure. These days Will and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, own a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, among other ventures.
This year, a 65-feet-tall mural portrait of Smith was painted by London, England artist Richard Wilson, not far from where the MC-turned-actor/film producer grew up. Across a lot facing West Philadelphia’s Global Leadership Academy Charter School, the mural shows Will in a suit and Air Jordan sneakers.