Cody Matthews was born to Charles and Nadine Matthews in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on August 12, 1998. He was the oldest of three children. Charles worked for a large feed and grain company in Philadelphia for many years and reached the position of foreman. Nadine remained a homemaker and concentrated on her children, so they did well in school, could go to college and have a better life. She helped them with their schoolwork, and their projects, and worked as a volunteer parent whenever she could. Charles agreed with her philosophy and supported her in her efforts to make a better life for their children.
When Cody was two, Nadine became pregnant with Cody's brother, Neal. It was a difficult pregnancy, and she was confined to bed rest for the last month of her pregnancy. Cody was just learning to speak and began stuttering. His father would say "slow down" or "take a breath" or "think about what you are going to say," but his advice just seemed to make the stuttering worse. The harder Cody tried not to stutter, the worse it got. His parents were concerned but didn't know what to do to help. It seemed when they didn't talk about it, he relaxed, and it was better.
When Cody entered preschool, he found to his dismay that the other children mimicked him and made fun of him, so he just didn't talk at school unless he absolutely had to. At the same time, Nadine was pregnant with Cody's sister, Noreen, and was again on extended bed rest. It was a difficult time for Cody, and he became more withdrawn, both at school and at home.
Fortunately, when Cody entered first grade, he had a teacher who had some speech pathology experience and began working with him. She also helped his parents understand what worked to help him improve, and what was detrimental to his improvement. Cody's parents did everything they could to bolster his self-confidence. He became an excellent student, and Nadine always made sure the teachers understood Cody's reluctance to speak in school.
Cody was a good student and did well in his studies and his tests. Except for his diffidence, he was a likable child. His schoolmates and his teachers liked him, and he came to trust them, but he remained painfully shy, especially in groups of people he didn't know.
Cody's shyness didn't prevent him from participating in school activities, sports, and community affairs. By the time he entered high school, he knew practically everyone in his small town and was well-liked. His grades and college entrance exams got him into the University of Mississippi — his mother's dream — but he found the adjustment to a large university almost overwhelming at first. He was lonely and lost. He missed his family and his hometown.
After his freshman year at Ole Miss, he was about ready to quit. But at home during the summer, his confidence returned, and he decided he could do it after all. Besides, he reasoned, he had an obligation to help his mother reach her dream of a college education for her children. He knew he was a role model for his younger brother and sister, and if he couldn't make it at Ole Miss, it might discourage them from even trying.
Now in his sophomore year, Cody still spends a lot of time by himself and is often seen wandering around, looking for ways to ease his loneliness.