Fox and the producers of MasterChef Junior are paying tribute to former contestant Ben Watkins, who died Monday after battling a rare cancer. He was 14.
In a joint statement, Fox and EndemolShine North America said, “It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Ben Watkins, a beloved member of the MasterChef Junior family. 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.”
In 2019, Watkins — who appeared in MasterChef Junior‘s sixth season — was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, an extremely rare soft tissue tumor. His death comes three years after his parents were killed in a domestic violence incident.
“Despite all the pain and sickness Ben went through, he never complained, not once,” Watkins uncle/guardian Anthony Edwards told the Chicago Tribune. “We were praying for a different outcome. But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating.”