‘He had a way to smile’: Former Monroe athlete who inspired in cancer battle dies

Even as he battled bone cancer, Dominic Watkins lived to make life better for others, his sister Aaliyha Johnson said.

“He just wanted people to be happy,” Johnson said. “Even when things were the worst, he had a way to smile and be happy.”

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Watkins, a 2018 Monroe High School graduate, died Friday night at Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, three times since 2015. On Nov. 21, 2017 — his 18th birthday — his left leg was amputated to eliminate the chance of the cancer spreading to other organs.

Cancer cut short his once promising athletic career where he starred in track, basketball and football.

Two days before his death, Watkins, surrounded by about 20 family and friends, was baptized while lying in his hospital bed. Johnson said every time people visited her brother in the hospital, he insisted they pray together.

“He never lost faith,” she said. “He always believed in God and His goodness. He said Jesus would take care of him. He believed in the power of emotional happiness and the power of healing.”

Five doves were released Saturday at the hospital in memory of Watkins.

Last spring, as Watkins prepared to graduate from Monroe, he was interviewed about the cancer and his prognosis.

“You are never promised tomorrow,” he said. “I try to live my life to the fullest.”

Besides his sister, his survivors include his parents, Nicholas Garcia Rose and Alondra Johnson; and brother Cameron Watkins.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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