Watkins starred in the reality show’s sixth season back in 2018. According to reports from TMZ, he was undergoing treatment for angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma — a soft tissue tumor — at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The star was one of just six people in the world who suffered from the disease.
“Despite all the pain and sickness Ben went through, he never complained, not once,” his uncle and legal 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.”
According to Edwards, he had been by Watkins’ hospital bedside for 18 months while his nephew was undergoing chemotherapy for tumors in his lung, spine, and shoulder.
The young star’s life had already taken a tragic turn back in 2017, when his dad killed his mother, and then himself, in a murder-suicide. Despite the heartbreak and such tragic circumstances, his uncle said Watkins was always a happy child.
“Ben was just so selfless,” his uncle continued. “It was unreal, the character he has… he had.”
Gordon Ramsay, who hosts MasterChef, expressed his condolences to Ben’s family in a tweet on Tuesday.
“We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today. Ben you were an incredibly talented home cook and even stronger young man,” Ramsay wrote. “Your young life had so many tough turns but you always persevered. Sending all the love to Ben Watkins’ family with this terrible loss.”