‘MasterChef Junior’ competitor Ben Watkins dead at 14 after battle with rare illness

Ben Watkins, a former competitor on “MasterChef Junior,” has died. He was 14 years old.

The young chef died in a Chicago Children’s hospital on Monday, his family’s attorney, Trent A. McCain, told Fox News on Tuesday.

Watkins was battling a rare illness known as Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma. Only six people in the world have been diagnosed with it, McCain said.

Watkins competed during season six of the Gordon Ramsay-hosted cooking competition show.

His death was also announced in a statement from his family on a GoFundMe page.

“Our Ben went home to be with his mother Monday afternoon after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Cancer,” read the statement.

Ben’s parents died in a murder-suicide in 2017, just months before season six of “MasterChef Junior” premiered. He was cared for by his uncle after his surgery, McCain said.

“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,” the statement continued. “We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done.”

The family concluded by saying that they have “taken solace” in knowing that Watkins is no longer suffering, and that “he was loved by so many.”

“#Love4Ben,” they added.

Ramsay, 54, also paid tribute on social media on Tuesday.

“We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today,” he wrote alongside a photo of the young chef. “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.”

FOX, the network on which the show aired, and distribution company, EndemolShine North America, released a similar joint statement as well.

“It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Ben Watkins, a beloved member of the MasterChef Junior family,” they said. “Ben overcame so much in his life with a remarkably positive attitude. 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.”

After the news of Watkins’ diagnosis went public, Ramsey and several judges and contestants from “MasterChef Junior” appeared in a video to wish their friend well and to encourage fans to donate to his GoFundMe.

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