Gordon Ramsay Donated $50K to Late 'MasterChef Junior' Alum Ben Watkins for Cancer Treatment
Gordon Ramsay helped cover medical costs for MasterChef Junior season 6 contestant Ben Watkins, who tragically died on Monday after a battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 14 years old.
A source tells ET that Ramsay, one of the judges of the Fox cooking competition for children ages 8 to 13, donated $50,000 in August to help cover the costs associated with Watkins' cancer treatment. Watkins was diagnosed with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, an extremely rare soft tissue tumor that typically is seen in children and young adults, not long after his 13th birthday last September. In a statement on Tuesday, Watkins' maternal grandmother and uncle said he died on Monday after his year-and-half-long battle with cancer.
After the news of his death, Ramsay paid tribute to Watkins on Twitter.
"We lost a Master of the @MasterChefJrFOX kitchen today," he wrote. "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."
Watkins' cancer battle wasn't the only tragedy the Gary, Indiana, native had endured. In 2017, his parents were found dead after a domestic violence incident that was ruled a murder-suicide, according to the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper reported that Watkins' father shot and killed his mother, and then himself.
At the time of his parents' deaths, Watkins had just wrapped filming season 6 of MasterChef Junior, which aired the next year. After making his TV debut and placing in the top 18 on the reality competition series, people across the country started donating to the fan favorite's GoFundMe campaign, known as #Love4Ben. The campaign is now a memorial fund and has currently raised over $206,000.
"After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben's strength, courage and love for life," Watkins' maternal grandmother and uncle's statement on the GoFundMe page reads. "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."
"Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over, and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many," the statement concludes.
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