Ben Watkins, an aspiring chef who is known for his stint on ‘MasterChef Junior’, an American cooking competition, has passed away at 14.
Watkins breathed his last on Monday after battling angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma — a rare form of cancer — for 18 months.
According to his family, he was diagnosed with the disease at 13 with doctors revealing that he was one of the six people with the rare illness in the world.
In a GoFundMe page titled “#Love4Ben” that was originally created in 2017 to support his education, Watkins’ family extolled the strength of the deceased who lost both parents to murder-suicide in 2017.
“After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life,” the statement read.
“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.
“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.”
Watkins rode to the spotlight after his participation in the sixth edition of the culinary contest hosted by Gordon Ramsay at the age of 11.
The aspiring chef won the hearts of the show’s fans after making it to the final 18 out of 40 contestants enlisted for the edition in 2018.
Born in Indiana, US, Watkins spent his early days helping his parents at Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue, Bakery & Deli, his family restaurant, until they passed away.
Tributes have since been pouring in for Watkins from different quarters including Ramsay who noted that the news of his death left him “heartbroken.”
“Heartbroken today losing my little mate, sending all my love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss Gx,” Ramsay wrote on his Instagram page.
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 Gx pic.twitter.com/RX81hP7lbw
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) November 17, 2020
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.
— MasterChef Junior (@MasterChefJrFOX) November 18, 2020
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