My hands were still shaking, but I was able to dial the number just fine.
It rang a few times.
I held the phone to my ear with my right hand, and plugged my other ear with my left.
When my parents picked up I had to yell over the sound of the crowd just to hear my own voice, “Mom! Get Dad on speaker now!”
“What is it, Matthew? What’s going on? Why’s it so loud there?” she said.
“I just won a 100 grand! One! Hundred! Thousand! Dollars! Real money!”
Silence. And then, in perfect unison, my parents screamed right back at me:
“GET THE F*** OUTTA HERE!”
I can still hear my mom crying, my dad going berserk — I’ve got the whole scene stored in my mind and I can play it back whenever I want.
This was 2011. Me and my team, OpTic Gaming, had just won Call of Duty XP in Los Angeles — the first tournament with a $1,000,000 purse in the game’s history. As a team, the four of us walked away with $400,000. I was 19 years old.
That prize might not seem like much by today’s standards, but back then … man, that was some serious cash. And for me, just a kid from Chicago who was hyped to go home and quit his job at McDonald’s — that money was everything. It was validation that all those hours I’d spent sitting in front of my screen with sweaty hands and a damp controller had been worth it. It was the push that I needed to take gaming seriously as a potential career. Most of all, it was the first time that I felt my mom and dad were truly, truly proud of me. Don’t get me wrong, they were great parents, of course, and they always told me that I made them proud … they’d shown me a lot of faith — this kid who wanted to be a professional gamer — and it was the best feeling in the world to be able to show them I was for real.
If I close my eyes and think of that moment, I can remember my mom’s voice — just pure, perfect joy. And that made me so happy.
Courtesy of Matthew (Nadeshot) HaagLet me tell you about my mom.
She used to work as a secretary at a hospital near our house in Palos Hills, a suburb just south of Chicago. She worked the graveyard shift in the ER. She was a warrior. Starting when I was around five, when she’d get home early in the morning after her shift, she’d take my sister and my brother to school and I’d tag along because I had nothing else to do.
After we dropped them off, it was just me and my mom. On our way home we’d take a little detour, just a few minutes out of our way, to go by the McDonald’s drive-through. She’d order a breakfast sandwich because there was never any food left over at home when her kids were done with it. Then she’d get me some orange juice. I would finish it so fast, and then I would stare out of the back window of our suburban at the golden arches, wishing we could go back.
Then we’d get home, go back to bed, just me and Mom, and cuddle up and watch two straight hours of Scooby-Doo and The Price is Right. It was the best. The best. That’s my mom — my juice-delivering, cartoon-watching, superhero mom.
Between my mom and dad, I had two great role models. I’m telling you about my parents because I’ve got some news for you at the end of this, and it’s a big deal. But first you need to know about where I’m from and why it means so much to me — because I want it to mean a lot to you, too.
The news is good — and in my life I really cherish good news. Because it hasn’t always been good. I remember when I was younger, I heard that my mom had had a seizure while driving. She got into an accident and broke two vertebrae in her back. The days of juice in the morning were long gone … but I still felt like a little kid — all I wanted was my mom. When I got to the hospital, the same place where I used to watch her run the show when she was at work, and I saw her lying on that bed, it sort of like … the image you had of the world changes. You know?
How could my mom be hurt? She’s my mom.
Her recovery was slow. A year after her accident, my life felt like it was upside down. Mom was bedridden most days. She had all these complications from her injury, including hypoglycemia, epilepsy and carpal tunnel. Still, she didn’t stop being a mom. She encouraged me to get a job at McDonald’s because she said she wanted me to know what it meant to work. Between the job and school and what was happening to my mom, I kind of had to grow up fast. My dad was around … and he was … I don’t even know what to say about him other than that he’s the strongest, most incredible man I know. The way he took care of Mom, the way he raised us kids — I learned so much from him.Courtesy of Matthew (Nadeshot) Haag
My job was hard at times. And it’s funny … when I worked at McDonald’s, I could have all the juice I wanted for free. But it didn’t taste the same.
After my mom got hurt, life was different. I had more spare time. I found a game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I fell in love with it. I played for hours and hours. I got really good. I met a guy named Hector Rodriguez from Chicago, who ran a team called OpTic Gaming. In 2011, I was on Hector’s team in L.A., winning $100,000 with guys who have become some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
A year later, early on the morning of October 4, 2012, I woke up to a missed call from my dad. Mom hadn’t been doing that well the last few weeks. She was in a lot of pain — we knew that. But we didn’t know the extent of it. She had become addicted to painkillers.
When I saw the missed call my heart sank. My dad never called that early.
My hands were still shaking, but I dialed the number just fine.
It rang a few times.
“Matt,” my dad said. “Mom’s not all right.”“Matt,” my dad said. “Mom’s not all right.”
Mom had died in her sleep the night before.
It was the worst day of my life. Nothing will ever compare. I hung up the phone and sat on my floor. I cried until I was out of tears. Until my throat hurt.
How could my mom be gone? She’s my mom.
I had been away from home for about a year. I had moved out and gotten my own apartment a few miles away so that I could focus on my gaming career. As I was driving back to my parents’ house, I passed the McDonald’s where I used to work. When I got home I gave my dad a huge hug. My brother and sister, too. I hadn’t seen them all that often in the last 12 months. Now we were back together under terrible circumstances. But seeing them … being close in moment like that — it really showed me what family meant. Like, in our darkest hour, we were there for each other. I’m sure at some point during the day we even managed some smiles — like Mom would have wanted.
Courtesy of Matthew (Nadeshot) HaagA few weeks before my mom died, I signed with Red Bull as one of their first esports athletes. And as I was chasing my ridiculous dreams — traveling to Europe to play CoD, building my brand — I realized that, no matter where I went, my family, and where I come from, and the love of my mom, are a huge part of what I do. They have to be.
So I went on and tried to be that person that my parents had been so proud of in 2011. I competed at the highest level. I won. I failed, too. A lot. But I made something of myself, just like my mom always wanted me to. The journey wasn’t always easy, or fun — but it was mine. There are so many moments, so many 3-v-1 clutches, chokes and last-second SnD defuses that come to mind when I think of my pro career. But, man, for real? It’s the friends I have made along the way who really mean the most. Because they’re the ones that when the all the stuff — the streams, views, likes, subs — goes away, well, they’ll still be here. So I’m going to say a quick thanks to all of them, just to put it on the record.
Hector, that man’s my brother. I owe him more than I could ever put into words here.
Scump. Seth Abner. We were best friends, worst friends, rivals and teammates. Competition probably pushed us too far sometimes, but really, it was sort of a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t be here today without him.
Fwiz. Ryan Wyatt. When I transitioned out of competitive Call of Duty and into the YouTuber/Streamer role, Ryan was a big part of my life. I first met him when he was a volunteer referee on a competitive gaming site called GameBattles. Now he’s the global head of gaming at YouTube. He’s been a mentor to me, and big part — like Seth and Hector and so, so many other people I’ve become close with — of why I’m the person I am today.
And that person is me, Matt. Or Nadeshot. Whichever you prefer.
And I still love gaming — more than almost anything.
That’s why what I’m about to tell you is so cool.
The 1point8/100 Thieves
Some of you might know that I’m the CEO of 100 Thieves — an esports organization I started last year. I needed a lot of help, and one of the people who I’m incredibly thankful to have met was Blake Robbins. He’s the mastermind behind so many things we’ve done, and a huge reason why we’re the team we are today.
We’ve been around for a little bit now and we were lucky enough to get connected with Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he invested in our team.
And today I’m thrilled to tell you that our organization has some new investors: Drake and Scooter Braun.
Now, look, I don’t want you to think this is just some press release. This is my life. This team, 100 Thieves, is my everything. It’s the result of every game, every stream, every video that I ever made. My parents taught me to give 100% of myself in everything I do. And in life, sometimes even when you work hard, things aren’t given to you — so you have to do everything you can to get them anyway.
Ya’ get it?
I wanted to tell this story about my mom because I thought about her the other day, right after one of the most surreal moments of my life.
Scooter had connected our team with Drake a few months ago. After some emails (a lot of emails), Drake invited us to his home in Hidden Hills, California. Not all that far from where I won that $100,000.
We met Drake. And it was a really, really great experience. He believed in our project, and our team — and that meant so much to me.
Man, it’s crazy. I grew up listening to Drake. Blasting Thank Me Later on my laptop speakers so I could hear it over my headphones while I was gaming.
And now Drake is a part of 100 Thieves. How ’bout that?And now Drake is a part of 100 Thieves. How ’bout that?
And maybe it’s silly, but it’s true: In that moment, I thought of my mom. I thought about how ridiculous my day had been. And all I wanted to do was to talk to her about it. I wanted her to see me now.
So, yeah. This whole thing is sort of crazy. But I’m so proud of my team. We’re a big family at 100 Thieves, and I truly mean that. And we will be a family forever. I’m so incredibly thankful to have this opportunity to build this thing, and to make it into what we all know it can be. I want our teams to win world championships — to compete with pride.
I want us to make something so great it would make my mom smile