Christopher Matthews, also known as Lethal Shooter, is one of the most desired and talented shooting coaches across any industry today. From training multiple NBA and WNBA players, Lethal Shooter has expanded his clientele by mentoring rappers and other notable industry figures. Join us as we pick his brain regarding his legacy:
Let’s just dive in to how you got involved in your career and started playing in the G-League overseas:
“I went to Washington state two years, played under Tony Bennett, then transferred to St. Bonaventure – played there for two years, then I played overseas for 7 years, played in France, Russia, China, Mexico… Played basically almost all around the world – but, I was very injury prone. I’ve come to the conclusion that I think I want to be a coach… I knew it was my gift to be a shooting coach in order to help other people understand their abilities to shoot the basketball.”
Have you always been traveling? What was that like?
“I’ve been travelling almost my whole life. I was lucky to play on some of the top high school teams in the nation. Kevin Durant played on my high school team before, and I was on the number one prep school team in the nation. So I’ve been traveling basically since like middle school.”
How was it like playing with Kevin Durant?
“Oh it was cool man, Kevin back then, you know I’m not really surprised what he’s doing now because he was doing that as a sophomore in high school. To see what he’s doing right now is definitely a blessing because people really have to understand the hard work that he puts in his tremendous he’s a very gifted athlete – but he really takes the time to work on his craft.”
You mentioned going to Bonaventure was one of the best decisions you made. Why is that?
“That is where my first coaches truly believed in me, they taught me a lot, you know shoot the basketball even if you’re missing. They’d still believe in me and would tell me just don’t put your head down and shoot the ball – and that’s where a lot of my confidence came from, from being at St. Bonaventure. Especially from the coaching staff and all those other guys that really pushed me in life.”
What do the values of preparation and hard work mean to you and how did they contribute to the path that you’re on?
“Yeah that’s crazy you say that, I was just working with someone and his shooting percentage is up to like 12%, coming from 3%… If you get that done early the gains are nothing so like we basically changed his whole routine, we change his shot, and like you said it starts not in the game, but it starts in practice. It starts with you understanding if you know if you really want to be good at something in life. You gotta be consistent, so a lot of people you know they’ll see Steph Curry or they see all these other people shooting the basketball crazy, but what you don’t see behind closed doors he probably shoots 500 shots a day, you know what I mean. So it’s very important for people to understand that.
Kevin Durant I wasn’t surprised because I saw in practice how hard he wanted it, like you can knock him down and he’ll get back and there’s a lot of players that I trained or just like that – Well if you want to be like him you need to wake up at 6:00 in the morning to get it going, you can take advantage of your day and take advantage of your purpose, because it’s not just in sports – a lot of people a lot of people want to be successful or are like “man I want to be Drake…” Or “I want to be this person…” but you gotta realize this person or that person might sit in the studio for 24 hours straight.
I remember one time Future allowed me to come in the studio with him for a few hours, I’m thinking like I’m going there about to have fun you know – he was locked in for like four straight hours passed, all he did was drink water. He was so focused that everything that was going on around him didn’t matter. From seeing rappers, to seeing entertainers, and seeing NBA players – it doesn’t come overnight. There’s so many consistent hours at least that’s what makes you feel good and on your purpose, looking back on all those hours that you put in that lead up to your greatness.”
Is there someone who has helped you elevate your game specifically?
“A lot of my mentors, Craig Hodges, Delante “Nut” Taylor there’s a lot of men that helped me in life. There’s a pastor in the DMV area, his name is Pastor Moore at Carolina Missionary Baptist Church, he really pushed me in life. Now when I look back at it, like “dang this is why these people were so consistent on me,” because they wanted me to be great you know what I mean.
They wanted me to go towards my purpose – and another person that really help me was Minister Nelson, his name is really Sherman by the way, and he would literally push me so hard to the point that it’s like the man was getting on my nerves, but now that I look at it right now, and it’s like if it wasn’t for them doing that – then maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today.
It’s definitely a blessing to make sure you try to put people around you that believe in your dreams and believe in your purpose, because it’s gonna be times that you wanna quit. But there’s times that you know my back is against the wall. But I have the infrastructure and people that help me stay well-grounded and if you want to be great in life you have to make sure you have positive people around you.
Make sure you have people around you that really believe in your purpose because you know as humans it’s OK to doubt, but once you doubt you gotta take it right out of your head and believe. I think I do a good job of that because of the infrastructure that’s been around me my whole life.”
Talk about your passion for helping your friends, and even in high school you were helping them perfect their shots. Do you think that might have come from these really strong influences your life early?
“It wasn’t until I really got started at Georgetown when I really got into it, John Thompson, rest in peace, he was the one that like pushed it to me.
He was like, “Look you’re always in here telling people how to shoot, teaching this person how to do this, why won’t you be a part of the staff?”
I was like man shut up, but it’s funny when I was done because that was one of the first colleges to offer to give me a job. They wanted me to be a part of their staff but I didn’t take it at the time, I never looked back at it, like when I used to be hooping with my friends I would always say “Bro you’re doing this wrong, bro you’re doing that wrong,” but I wasn’t doing it to be a coach – I was just doing it because I care.
I look back at those stories like dang, I’ve actually been doing this since high school. I’ve been doing this my whole life and it comes from being around strong people that understand and just basically believe in you. People that take the time to push you, even if you don’t like it, I’m going to be on your ass.”
How did you gain the trust of these artists like Drake?
“So basically like you know with clients, rappers, and entertainers they trust in me because they get to see the Chris Matthews – at least the shooter that’s not on Instagram, you know Instagram is shooting and then doing tricks and all that type of stuff.
But you know I’m a 35 year old grown man and when you’re around me I’m a grown man. You know your body’s not dumb, and your body can feel negative traction or positive traction. I feel like I’m able to pull that positive out of all of my guys because they see the positive in me.
So if I’m training Cordae ,or I’m training Machine Gun Kelly, or then I that night I might go train Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, there is no difference – of course the training is different because one is an elite shooter and one is doing it because they love the game but my energy that I give the person is always the same.
And I think that’s why they trust me and they see that you know I come in with a pure heart; just to see them be great – if you’re an NBA player, WNBA player, rapper, entertainer so you know all of this I do is just basically being devoted to help other people, it’s incredible.”
How did you become the destination trainer for rappers? No one else is doing what you’re doing in hip hop right now
“I think my first person that I ever trained was a rapper was 21 Savage. I was living in Atlanta at the time and he reached out to me like, “Yo, let’s get some shots up,” and you know back then I was like full NBA, full WNBA, full training pros, then I say you know what – I see what he’s doing wrong in the videos, why won’t I help 21 shoot the basketball…
We meet at the gym bro, you’ll never believe it’s like midnight and I got a gym reserved for us. That’s how me and 21 became friends, and that was almost like 3 1/2 years ago.
Right from there it just took off, that’s why I just been blessed to train so many rappers. Which you know I don’t take it for granted – just like I told you just last week I trained Cordae.
There’s a lot of people that I have lined up right now, and you know I’ve trained Drake, I’ve trained Future, I’ve trained French Montana, and I’m set up to train with Rick Ross as well.
It’s just a blessing to give my gift to other people because you know the reason in life you have a gift is not to hold onto it, it is to show other people that get deserve it. What these rappers do when they’re on the stage, they’re giving all of their energy on the stage because they want people to see the passion and all this stuff they put behind their message.
That’s why I respect rappers now, I respect what they do because it’s not easy to sit in the studio that long and then come up with all these visions so people can understand.”
Is there a specific rapper that really stood out compared to others you worked with?
“I’ve trained 2 Chainz and he was very great. I was pushing him, I was smacking him, like I was doing certain stuff that I do to the NBA guys and he was loving it man. He was loving every piece of it.
What a lot of people don’t know about Drake is he doesn’t just post about the game, he doesn’t just talk about the game, this dude really on some ball is life shit – like how I am, like how MJ is, and that’s why I respect Drake as well.
When I was being detailed he would always look at me. He was always focused – he wasn’t there to just be shooting with Lethal Shooter, he was there to get better.”
Do you think of these guys music differently after you’ve worked with them?
“Talking to them in depth and getting to know this person, now when you hear certain stuff it’s like, “Damn I feel it now…” A good example is Cordae, talking to him and then going and listening to his music again, the message is crazy, this dude’s message is powerful. That’s what drives me, and that’s what motivates me.
When I listen I listen to everything; I listen to Sade, I listen to Geezy, I listen to Drake, and then I might flip to Elton John and go all the way back. I understand everybody has music that speaks in different ways and his music after training him a few weeks ago had me like, man this this young man is on a powerful path of life.”
In 2016, you spoke on MJ being the greatest player of all-time, 5 years later, does this still stand?
“I think MJ basically set the standard, there’s players before him that have as well, but the things that he was doing back then I feel like if he was in today’s NBA it would be a little bit more on steroids because of the mentality. Not saying the guys now don’t have the same mentality.
This era was a little bit more grittier and I feel that’s the reason why MJ is the best ever, because the stuff that he had to go against – hand checking, to getting his teeth almost knocked out. You know in today’s NBA if somebody goes to the to the basket and you hit them the wrong way they’re going to kick you out of the game. Not saying basketball should be a sport like football, or that basketball should be like UFC, but basketball is a game of contact, basketball is a game of emotion, basketball is a game of passion.
I think if it goes back to that then I can probably say that somebody else is the greatest player of all time because we have a few more people in today’s era that can compete with what Michael Jordan has done, but it’s just the era that he played which makes him the goat.”
Why did you make it a priority in your career to give back?
“If I got all of these things and I didn’t give it back to the universe. That’s why my social media platform is not based on me, if you notice I’m trying to keep everybody understanding of positivity trying to keep everybody understanding and moving toward your purpose. All of us we’re human, the universe put here – and God put us here to be great. You know what I mean, and you can’t do that if you don’t give to others. The world rewards you when you give and that’s why my whole life is devoted to that.”
Back in 2019 you spoke on something that would change people’s lives, can you speak on that?
“I just got the LLC for the foundation it’s going to be called the, Jeffrey Winslow foundation, after my dad. I want to basically build an infrastructure in my neighborhood, so if a kid wanna be a skateboarder? Cool. We’re gonna take you to the to the mall we gonna buy you the whole skate kit whatever. We’re gonna put somebody in place with you to teach you how to skate. OK you wanna be a plumber young man? we’re gonna put somebody in the community that’s a plumber with you. If a young woman wants to be a makeup artist, we’re gonna buy you a makeup kit and we’re gonna get somebody in the community to teach you.
That’s what my foundation is going to be about, like just giving to the kids something that’s normally a resource.”
What advice would you give a young athlete?
“Just basically move in your purpose, don’t allow somebody else’s win affect you. And when I say that it’s like – how come that person is getting that money? How come that person has that car? How come that person has that house? It’s ’cause it’s their time. Your time will come and it’s the time that you’re using to spend on worrying about why they have that – you could be losing out on your purpose.
Try your best to not be negative. I’ve noticed with the kids that are growing up now, everybody’s super negative. It’s because of the environment that’s going on right now in the world, but if you want to be great – there is no great person in life that’s super successful that’s also a negative person.
You always see the positive in everything and that’s why I try to teach people, because like I said a lot of people don’t know my upbringing you know I was able to live basically almost in the deadliest war in Washington DC. I lived in Langdon park and at that time my neighborhood was a war zone.
But I always said to myself “I’m gonna make it I’m gonna be positive I’m gonna do that,” but I had the infrastructure for me to make it out.
So if you’re a kid reading this, if you live in a neighborhood and they act crazy, if you live in a neighborhood that you feel like it’s not gonna work for you, you can make it out. But it takes consistency. You’re not going to make it out just by talking, you must make it out by doing work.”