MasterChef Junior's Ben Watkins Is Dead At 14 After Rare Diagnosis

Ben Watkins on MasterChef Junior (2018)

Ben Watkins, known for competing on MasterChef Junior under Gordon Ramsay, has tragically passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer. The young man was diagnosed with a soft-tissue tumor at the age of 13 and had been putting up a fierce battle with cancer. Watkins was only 14 at the time of his passing.

Ben Watkins' death was confirmed in a statement by his maternal grandmother and uncle. The statement (via Facebook) celebrated the young man's legacy and highlighted his strength, love and courage. The family also stressed how he never complained, even in the midst of tough circumstances:

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. 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.

According to TMZ, Ben Watkins was only 1 of 6 people in the world to be diagnosed with the rare illness known as Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. Earlier this year, Ramsay and his fellow competitors produced a video in which they wished him well. You can check out the sweet video for yourself down below:

In the wake of his passing, Gordon Ramsay also released a statement on Twitter. In the sweet post, he praised Watkins’ skills as a cook and his strength as a person:

We lost a Master of the MasterChef Junior 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

Ben Watkins originally competed on the sixth season of MasterChef Junior, alongside a plethora of other young, aspiring chefs. He was ultimately eliminated early in the season, but he still managed to become a fan favorite. This wasn’t simply due to his cooking skills but also because of his brave and tragic story.

In 2017, both of Watkins’ parents were found dead in what was ruled a murder-suicide. According to The Chicago Tribune, Ben’s father shot his mother before ultimately killing himself. This all occurred shortly after Watkins wrapped on his season of MasterChef Junior.

The young Watkins became even more of an inspiration following his cancer diagnosis, especially through his consistently upbeat attitude. He dreamed of opening his own restaurant and bakery, just as his late father, who ran Big Ben’s Bodacious Barbecue & Deli, which was named in his son’s honor. Ben also worked at the restaurant as a cook and front counter employee.

Ben Watkins may not have been on this Earth long, but he managed to make the most of the time he had by living life to its fullest, and his legacy will not be forgotten.

We here at CinemaBlend extend our thoughts to the family of Ben Watkins during this difficult time.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.