Nicky Hayden grew up in a motorcycle family in Owensboro, Kentucky. Both his mother and father were involved with racing, as well as his four siblings. Hayden grew up with motorcycles, and it's no surprise that he became one of the premier riders in the MotoGP.
As soon as Nicky Hayden could walk, he was riding around on a dirt bike. His father Earl built bikes for his children, hoping that they would one day learn to race. Well, with Nicky Hayden racing in the MotoGP and his brothers Tommy and Roger Lee also having successful careers, it looks like Earl's plan worked.
Nicky's early career was on the back of a dirt bike at the age of 4. Hayden would ride on the dirt throughout his childhood, but eventually made the switch to road racing in 1998. Hayden will still hop in the dirt from time to time to race with his brothers, and in 2002, all three Hayden brothers stepped up on the podium at the end of the Springfield TT. But it is on the pavement that Nicky has found the most success.
Hayden took fourth place in both the 750 and 600 AMA Supersport series in 1998, and the following year he became the youngest rider to win the 600 Supersport series. The championship earned him the Rookie of the Year award, but it wasn't the only Rookie of the Year award that Hayden would win in 1999. Hayden raced in 12 of the 18 Grand National dirt track rounds, and was given the Rookie of the Year Award for that series as well.
Hayden moved up to the Superbike category in 2000, and claimed second place in his rookie season. The following year Hayden would finish third, but in 2002 Hayden became the youngest rider to ever win an AMA Superbike championship.
After winning an AMA Superbike championship, Hayden decided to make the trip across the pond to race in the MotoGP series. Hayden had an extremely impressive rookie season, scoring two podiums and earning yet another Rookie of the Year award. It took two years for Hayden to score his first win in the MotoGP, which he did in 2005 on American soil at Laguna Seca.
The following year Hayden would have his most successful season in the MotoGP to date. Hayden and Valentino Rossi battled throughout a season that came down to the final race. Hayden handled the pressure gracefully, and climbed up to the third spot on the podium in Valencia, which gave him enough points to secure his first MotoGP championship.
Hayden hasn't seen the same success as he did during his first few years in the MotoGP. His best finish since his championship winning season has been 6th which he earned in 2008. But Hayden is still a threat for victory at every race, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Kentucky Kid back on top soon.
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