MasterChef Junior contestant Ben Watkins died of cancer Monday at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. He was 14.
Watkins’ uncle and grandmother announced his death in a statement on a GoFundMe page entitled “# Love4Ben”, which was originally created in 2017 to support his education after the death of his parents. “After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love of life,” the statement said. “He never, ever complained. Ben was and always will be the strongest man we know. “
The statement continued, with the Watkins family thanking the Indiana community for their support: “When Ben̵
Watkins was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a soft tissue tumor most common in children and young adults, and died after treatment for 18 months.
In 2018, the ambitious chef competed in the sixth season of Gordon Ramsey’s “MasterChef Junior” when he was 11 years old. Among the 40 contestants of the season, Watkins was part of the top 24 who competed for the winning title. He ranked in the top 18.
Growing up in Indiana, Watkins spent his free time cooking at his family restaurant, Big Ben’s Bodacious BBQ and delicacies, until he lost both his parents, Layla Edwards and Mike Watkins, to suicide, according to the Chicago Tribune. The restaurant closed the month his parents died.
That same year, the Miller Beach community, in Gary, Indiana, where Ben lived, gathered around the then 13-year-old and raised more than $ 30,000 through GoFundMe to support his dreams in culinary arts and engineering.
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