Two years ago, doctors described Josh Stein's shoulder injury , which he originally treated with endless amounts of ibuprofen , as one of the worst they had ever seen.
Stein has seven screws and a plate in his left collarbone. Coupled with 11 broken bones in the last five years, he's building quite the resume of wounds.
But still, through all the pain, the motocross rider refuses to give up what he loves and now, that dedication is starting to payoff.
The Baltimore native will compete in the Budds Creek National on Saturday in Mechanicsvillein the fifth race of the season of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. It will be his first race on the professional tour this year.
"My whole dream was to be able to do these races nationally," Stein said. "Pretty much my whole life revolves around racing and to be able to do it here is the coolest thing I could have imagined."
The 21-year-old graduated from Perry Hall and now works in construction. Stein said he makes anywhere from $300 to $1,000 on a good racing weekend and usually breaks even after travel, equipment and other expenses are factored in.
He goes to the gym after work at least four times a week and said motocross is the most physically demanding sport he's ever experienced.
Saturday, Stein will line up against some of the world's top riders, aiming to qualify among the top 40, which would give him a place in the final later in the day. About 80 riders will vie for those spots.
"For the pros, this is their job," Stein said. "I work in construction, so it's cool to put the work in to be at their level. I always dreamed of what it would be like if a construction worker could line up with these guys."
Stein's father James, who doubles as his coach, said his son's dedication is evident in his refusal to give up the sport, even if he wanted to after all the metal was put into his body.
"If he gets in the main event that'll be cool," James Stein said. "He wanted to quit and said he wasn't going to quit until he got into a main event. And now he wants to go to a couple more later in the summer."
Stein will attempt to reach his goal on the track he knows well. He grew up riding the track at Budds Creek and said he is excited to have his friends and family in attendance to support him.
Stein took a liking to pedal bikes as a kid, and before he was out of elementary school, he was begging his parents for a dirt bike. When he first started riding, Stein had no idea amateur and professional racing existed.
Stein is a first generation rider, so he taught himself everything he knows about riding. Unfortunately, he said, learning by trial and error with no real guidance resulted in him pushing the envelope a little too often.
"I had to go crazy, go as hard as you can," Stein said. "I got hurt a lot because of that."
After months of time off and recovery from those injuries, James Stein said his son is back on track and his progress has been steady.
"He's progressing really well," James Stein said. "When I work with him, at first after the injuries, it takes a little bit of time to get back. He's got a little bit of time now and we're happy with it."
Even with the injuries, it was hard for Stein to walk out on the sport. Racing became a part of him and he just couldn't let it go.
"Some people say, 'Wow why do you do this?'" he said. "I try to get away from it for a weekend or two when I'm not hurt, but, I hate to say it, it's like a drug. Like an addiction. That adrenaline, you can't get it with anything else."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun