Watkins’ uncle and grandmother announced his death in a statement on a GoFundMe page titled “#Love4Ben” that was initially created in the year 2017 to support his education following the death of his parents.
The statement reads that after losing both of his parents in the month of September of the year 2017, they have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage, and love for life. Ben never, ever complained; he was and will always be the strongest person they know.
The statement continued, with Watkins’ family thanking the Indiana community for its support: “When the rare illness of Ben was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love that he received from every corner of the globe especially here, in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.
They cannot thank this community enough for holding their family up in their prayers and for all that they have done. Ben suffered a lot more than his share in his just fourteen years on this Earth, but they take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, he knew he was loved by so many.
Ben Watkins From Masterchef Junior Passes Away At 14: Case Of Death Is A Rare Cancer Reportedly
He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, which is a soft tissue tumor most commonly occurring in children and young adults, and passed away after undergoing treatment for 18 months.
In the year 2018, the aspiring chef competed in the sixth season of Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef Junior,” when he was only 11 years old. Among the 40 contestants from the season, Watkins was a part of the top 24 contestants who competed for the winning title. He was placed in the top 18.
Growing up in Indiana, Ben spent his free time cooking at his family restaurant, Big Ben’s Bodacious BBQ and Delicatessen, until he lost both his parents, Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins murder-suicide, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The restaurant was closed the month his parents died.
That year, the Miller Beach community, the neighborhood in Gary, Ind., where he lived, rallied around the then 13-year-old, raising more than $30,000 through the GoFundMe to support his dreams in the culinary arts and engineering.