Nicholas “Nicky” Hayden passed away on May 22, 2017, at the age of 35, following a May 17 bicycle accident in Italy. He was born on July 30, 1981 into a large extended Catholic family in Owensboro, Kentucky and because of this birth state he was given the name “Kentucky Kid”. He was born as the middle child to Earl and Rose Hayden, and had two brothers and two sisters. His family loved motorcycles even from way before Nicky was born, and soon after he started walking he declared his dream of becoming a world champion one day. Though the racing circuits were away from the reach as he lived on a farm along with his family but he was a natural athlete and so excelling in every sport he was a part of came naturally to him.
Nicky did his schooling at local Catholic schools - Precious Blood Elementary School, Owensboro Catholic Middle School and Owensboro Catholic High School. While helping out his uncle at nearby farms was a part of his initial job.
Motorcycle racing was special to his whole family but for Nicky it meant something much bigger, as he announced to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a world champion. Apart from an annual spring-break jaunt to Panama City, Florida, Hayden family started tripping to racetracks, first around the Midwest, then the Eastern US, and eventually the entire country. But even after traveling the whole globe for racing, Nicky always knew where his home was and that always led him back to the roots.
People close to Nicky always referred him as one of the most generous, kind and funniest people around. He always wore his famous ‘grin’ and always found time to respond to everyone who approached him, even strangers. He loved to pull pranks on friends and loved to party wearing funny costumes, entertaining everybody around him.
He was always referred as the ‘family guy’ as many who raced internationally always preferred to relocate overseas but Nicky always returned home, and initially resided in an apartment above his parent’s garage. Later on, Nicky also purchased his own house nearby but he religiously showed up for his mother’s 6 o’clock dinners when he wasn't traveling.
A few years back, Nicky also bought and refurbished an old building on an Owensboro lake for the family get together and other functions dubbing it as Victory Lane Lodge.
He got engaged to his girlfriend Jacqueline Marin (Jackie) last year.
A short glimpse at his racing career:
Nicky transformed his amateur dirt track and road racing career into a successful stint in the AMA Grand National Championship and AMA Superbike series, he earned 1999 AMA Supersport and 2002 AMA Superbike crowns with American Honda at that part of the time in his career. Later on, Nicky got a chance with Repsol Honda at the MotoGP series, wherein 2006 he achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a racing World Champion. Apart from Repsol Honda, Nicky also rode for Ducati and Aspar Racing in MotoGP, and in 2016 he jumped to the FIM Superbike World Championship with the Ten Kate squad.
The world has seen many racing legends, they are surely great on the track but only a few are remembered for being more than that. Nicky Hayden was an absolute champion both on and off the track. Only a few can achieve what he did in the limited time he had and only a fewer can touch the lives of others like Nicky did. His kindness and down to earth nature will inspire many for the decades to come.
Note: Details from Nicky Hayden’s Obituary