Nicky Hayden, MotoGP World Champion in 2006, has passed away due to injuries suffered in a cycling accident. He was 35 years old. Hayden was seriously injured in a collision with a car whilst out training in Rimini, Italy on May 17.

Born Nicholas Patrick Hayden in Owensboro, Kentucky, US in July, 1981, he was born into a motorcycle racing family, and began his career riding dirt track from a young age. In 1999, he won his first major championship, the AMA Supersport, garnering the titles for AMA Pro Athlete and Flat Track Rookie of the Year in the process.

In 2002, the Hayden family stood proud as he, together with brothers Tommy and Roger, made it a family hat-trick at the Springfield TT. The same year, Hayden grabbed the AMA Superbike Championship, and made his move to the top-flight of motorcycle racing, MotoGP.

Picking up the moniker “Kentucky Kid”, Hayden’s debut was an outstanding success, being named MotoGP Rookie of the Year. In 2005, Hayden took his first MotoGP win in front of a home crowd at Laguna Seca. The following year, an intense rivalry began with Valentino Rossi, who, at the time, had a five-in-a-row world championship winning streak.

Hayden ended Rossi’s winning streak in a hard fought battle for points right down to the wire at the final grand prix in Valencia, Spain. After 13 seasons in MotoGP riding for Honda and Ducati, Hayden made the switch to World Superbikes (WSBK) in 2016 with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, winning at Sepang in WSBK’s final appearance in Malaysia.

He also tried his hand in the movie business, standing in for Daniel Craig in the James Bond movie “Skyfall”. Hayden rode a stunt motorcycle across the rooftops of Istanbul, Turkey, in a chase scene that culminated with him crashing through the roof of the Grand Bazaar.

Earning the respect of his peers, Hayden was universally liked in the MotoGP and WSBK paddocks, with messages of support and well wishes pouring in when news of his accident broke. Rossi expressed his admiration for Hayden in a Twitter post, saying, “Nicky is one of the best friends I’ve ever had in the paddock.”