CHICAGO — At Maurice Matthews’ funeral, his family played a rap song he recorded.
The song's lyrics memorialized family Matthews had lost to violence and asked for forgiveness over mistakes he had made, his mother Zylenda Matthews said.
Zylenda Matthews said her son’s music was just another sign that he had changed after going to prison a few years before on robbery charges. After prison, he grew closer to his family and tried to help others learn from his mistakes. Zylenda Matthews also said he started attending church.
“He went to jail for the first time in his life, and he learned that he can’t get nothing by being in jail,” Zylenda Matthews said. “When he got out he saw all these kids were selling drugs. He was telling them to do the opposite.”
Maurice Matthews, 29, was gunned down in an alley near the 1700 block of North Monitor Avenue late on May 2, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Zylenda Matthews said Maurice was trying to protect his female cousin from a man who she felt had been stalking him, authorities said. The night of his murder, Maurice Matthews and the man had gotten in an argument near the cousin’s home. The altercation ended with the man pulling a handgun, shooting Maurice in the chest. Maurice was dead at the scene, according to the medical examiner.
“He wasn't taking 'no' for an answer, and he did what he did,” Zylenda Matthews said.
Nathan Burtin, 33, of Maywood, drove away from the scene but was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with first-degree murder.
Maurice’s stage name was Lil Reese, not to be confused by another Chicago rapper of the same name. While he never seriously pursued a record contract, his mom said he could’ve made it big based on his recordings produced with bass-heavy beats and Asian-influenced melodies.
“He had skills and people wanted his music,” Zylenda Matthews said.
Maurice Matthews had a daughter Marshauna, who was 6 at the time of his death.
“He did a lot for Marshauna,” Zylenda Matthews said. “He’d teach her and comb her hair. He wore a pink shirt for her sixth birthday because that’s her color.”