Beloved MasterChef Junior Star Ben Watkins Dies at 14

Illustration for article titled Beloved iMasterChef Junior/i Star Ben Watkins Dies at 14

Photo: Michael Becker/ Fox Broadcasting 2018

It is with great sadness we report that MasterChef Junior star Ben Watkins has passed away at the age of 14, after a year-and-a-half-long battle with cancer.

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In a statement, Watkins’ family shared the heartbreaking news via their attorney, Trent Cain:

Our Ben went home to be with his mother this afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Cancer. After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know. When Ben’s rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe—especially here in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done. Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many. #Love4Ben

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This news comes just three years after the tragic loss of both of Watkins’ parents in an apparent murder-suicide and less than five months after Watkins’ diagnosis of the extremely rare cancer angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor that has thus far only been diagnosed in six people worldwide. A talented and passionate aspiring chef, Watkins quickly rose to the top 24 contestants on the sixth season of MasterChef Junior, where he eventually placed in the top 18. MasterChef host Gordon Ramsay expressed his sadness over the loss on Twitter:

Fox also offered condolences to the family in a statement, saying: “It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Ben Watkins, a beloved member of the MasterChef Junior family. Ben overcame so much in his life with a remarkably positive attitude. He was a tremendous role model for chefs of all ages and will be dearly missed by everyone at EndemolShine North America and FOX Entertainment.”

A GoFundMe has been created by Watkins’ family for his memorial fund.

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