Matt Lee Hooper was born February 14, 1995, to Monty and Laura Hooper at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi. Matt was the Hoopers' Valentine's present, weighing in at a whopping 10 lbs., 2 oz.
Matt was a pleasant, if sometimes mischievous, child. Monty and Laura wanted to be sure he grew up with good morals, so the family attended church together regularly. His parents also enrolled him in wholesome activities like Boy Scouts and 4-H as soon as he was old enough.
Matt was a good student and made lots of friends who teased him and called him "Doctor Doolittle" because he was always concerned about wounded animals. He had a dog and cat of his own, and he practiced putting bandages on them. His goal was to become a doctor.
Things changed during his years at Yoknapatawpha High School. During the beginning of Matt's senior year, his father died suddenly from an undiagnosed brain aneurysm, devastating Matt and his mother. Monty left his family well taken care of, but both Matt's and Laura's lives changed that day. Things would never be the same.
Matt graduated from Yoknapatawpha High in 2014 and enrolled at the University of Mississippi. His mother encouraged Matt to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, but his heart wasn't in it anymore. Instead, he opted for a career in nursing and started the prerequisite classes that fall.
But he found the lure of parties and social activities was stronger than his desire to go to class, and his grades suffered. He started taking trips to the casinos in Tunica and found he loved to play the slots.
In 2015, Matt decided he'd had enough of school, and he dropped out. After that, all he seemed to do was lie around the house all day and go out all night. Finally, his mother gave him an ultimatum: either go back to school or find a job.
Matt didn't want to go back to college, so he found a job at Lucky Jack's Medical Equipment Emporium, delivering oxygen to nursing homes in the area.
At Yoknapatawpha Acres, one of the nursing homes he serviced, he met Jerry Shaw. The two became friends when they discovered a shared interest in gambling, and they sometimes got together after work for a beer and a friendly or not-so-friendly card game.