Ben Watkins, the 14-year-old known for his role as a contestant on “MasterChef Junior,” died of cancer Monday at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Watkins lost both of his parents in a 2017 tragedy and was diagnosed with a rare illness called angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma shortly after his 13th birthday.
Watkins’ uncle and grandmother announced the death in a statement on a GoFundMe page titled #Love4Ben that was posted in 2017 following his parents death.
"Our Ben went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon," said his grandmother Donna Edwards and uncle Anthony Edwards on the fundraising site. "We have marveled at Ben's strength, courage and love for life. He never ever complained. Ben was and always will be the strongest person we know."
Watkins was 11 years old when he appeared on the sixth season of the show and made it to the final 18. His signature dish was fried chicken with mashed potatoes.
Growing up in Indiana, Watkins helped out at his family’s restaurant that was named after him – Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue, Bakery & Deli.
"Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on Earth," the GoFundMe statement said. "But we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many."
"MasterChef Junior" host Gordon Ramsay posted an Instagram tribute Tuesday and said he was “heartbroken” over the “terrible loss.”
"We lost a Master of the @masterchefjunior kitchen today,” Ramsay said. “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," Ramsay wrote. "I adored our time cooking and laughing together on set."