MasterChef Junior’s Ben Watkins died on Monday at 14 from cancer at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, his family said.
Watkins was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, which impacts soft tissue, in July.
His relatives said that doctors told them that only five other people in the world had the rare ailment,
‘Our Ben home went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half long battle with cancer,’ his maternal grandmother Donna Edwards and uncle Anthony Edwards said in a statement.
‘After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life.
The latest: MasterChef Junior’s Ben Watkins died on Monday at 14 from cancer at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, his family said
Tragic backstory: Watkins lost his parents Leila Edwards and Mike Watkins in a 2017 murder-suicide
‘He never, ever complained. Ben was and will 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 quarter of the globe – especially in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.’
The family continued: ‘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 of his 14 years on earth but we take solace in that suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many.’
Gordon Ramsay took to Twitter Tuesday to pay tribute to the former MasterChef Junior contestant.
Our Ben home went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half long battle with cancer,’ his maternal grandmother Donna Edwards and uncle Anthony Edwards (pictured right, with Ben) said in a statement
Gordon Ramsay took to Twitter Tuesday to pay tribute to the former MasterChef Junior contestant
Sad: Watkins had recently filmed MasterChef Junior’s sixth season at the time his parents died
‘We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today,’ he 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. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss Gx.’
The teenage cook lost both of his parents Leila Edwards, 43, and Mike Watkins, 46, in a September 2017 murder-suicide when he was just 11.
His father fatally shot his mother before taking his own life after they talked about a divorce, Ben’s uncle Anthony, a casino boat security officer, said.
Ben holds a photo collage of his late parents, Leila Edwards and Michael Watkins, after they died in 2017
He moved in with his grandmother Donna and Anthony (pictured together, right) after the tragic incident
They had owned Big Ben’s Bodacious BBQ and Delicatessen in Gary, Indiana, named after Ben and where he often helped out in the kitchen.
He moved in with his grandmother Donna and Anthony afterwards.
At the time, Anthony told the
‘We take it one day at a time.’
Watkins had recently shot MasterChef Junior’s sixth season just before the tragic incident.
Tragic: Watkins’ relatives issued a statement in the wake of his death
It aired the following year, and fans donated $30,000 for a fundraising campaign called #Love4Ben toward a trust fund for the talented young cook, who was just 11 when he was on the show.
Upon his diagnosis, Watkins’ family revived the #Love4Ben campaign on
‘Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive and looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an Engineer,’ a statement on the fundraising page read.
‘We want Ben to be able to continue his education in the culinary arts and/or Engineering wherever he wants to in the world.’
‘On behalf of Grandma Donna and Uncle Anthony, thank you for your #Love4Ben!.’