‘MasterChef Junior’ contestant Ben Watkins dead at 14
Former “MasterChef Junior” contestant Ben Watkins lost his battle with a rare form of cancer Monday, according to his family. He was 14.
Watkins, who starred in the reality show’s sixth season in 2018, was undergoing treatment for angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma — a soft tissue tumor — at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, according to TMZ.
The young star was one out of only six people in the world who suffered from the disease.
“Despite all the pain and sickness Ben went through, he never complained, not once,” his uncle and legal guardian, Anthony Edwards, told the Chicago Tribune.
Edwards said he had been by Watkins’ hospital bedside for 18 months, as his nephew was undergoing chemotherapy for tumors in his lung, spine and shoulder.
“We were praying for a different outcome,” he told the outlet. “But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating.”
The young culinary whiz’s life had already taken a tragic turn in 2017 when his dad killed his mother, and then himself, in a murder-suicide.
Despite the heartbreak, Watkins was always a happy child, his uncle said.
He had loved working at his father’s restaurant, Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue & Deli in Gary, Ind. — which was named after him — and had dreams of opening up his own restaurant and bakery.
“Ben was just so selfless,” his uncle told the Tribune. “It was unreal, the character he has… he had.”
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who hosts the “MasterChef” series, expressed his condolences to Ben’s family.
“We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today. Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man. Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss,” Ramsay tweeted Tuesday.
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