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'MasterChef Junior' Alum Ben Watkins Dies Of Rare Cancer At 14 Years Old

Ben Watkins on MasterChef Juniors

Nov. 18 2020, Updated 1:11 p.m. ET

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MasterChef Junior alum Ben Watkins died on Monday, November 16, after a year and half long battle with a rare form of cancer. Watkins was only 14 years old. 

His death comes only three years after his parents died in a domestic violence incident in 2017.  

In a statement on his GoFundMe page, his uncle Anthony Edwards and grandmother Donna Edwards said the young cook had gone "home to be with his mother."

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Ben Watkinswith his mother

"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,” they wrote. "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," the statement continued. 

Watkins was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma — an extremely rare soft tissue tumor — days before his 13th birthday.

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Edwards told the Chicago Tribune his family was "praying for a different outcome." Edwards got legal custody of the teen after his parents passed away. "But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating," Edwards revealed. 


Watkins's family remembers him as a "superhero." The Chicago Tribune reported that the teen would ask nurses to make sure his uncle had enough water and encouraged a doctor, who was writing a paper on his condition, to use his name in the hopes that other children would not endure what he went through.

Family friend Trent McCain told the newspaper that Watkins was an "inspiration" to "so many people."

"I have seen humanity and kindness up close with the outpouring of love and support Ben has received over the past three years," McCain said.

Gordon Ramsay paid tribute to the young chef on social media after the news broke. “We lost a member of the @masterchefjunior kitchen today,” the restauranteur wrote next to a picture of Watkins from the show. “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."

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"I adored our time cooking and laughing together on set. Heartbroken today losing my little mate, sending all my love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss," Ramsey concluded. 

Ramsay and Watkin’s MasterChef Junior castmates made a video in support of the teen earlier this year while he was in the hospital. 

RIP, Watkins. You will be missed.


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