In Levi’s mother’s mind he was named for her ancestor who died in the Civil War. However, the name Levi was also an old Hooper family name, and Leon Hooper, Levi’s father, chose to name his son after his grandfather who had died the year Levi was born.
Levi Hooper was a descendant of two old Southern families: the Hoopers came into North Carolina in the early 18th century and then migrated to Alabama in the mid-19th century. The Mott family was an old Louisianan family going back to the 1750s.
Jackson, Mississippi, was where Levi was raised and he never moved away. His daddy was a welder and made a good living but died just before Levi turned two. After that Levi’s mother turned the family home into a thrift shop (see song,”Mildred’s House of Values“) putting price tags on everything from lamps and vases to the furniture.
Levi eventually got his own place and met his neighbor from across the street, Lucy Cooper, and began a kind of courtship (see song, “Levi + Lucy“). Lucy Cooper was nothing like Levi, she was rebellious and wild whereas Levi was mild-mannered, a church -going man. But Lucy was strangely attracted to Levi’s wholesome quality and made a real effort at cleaning up her life and trying her best to change.
But as this kind of thing is never really easy, Lucy had trouble straightening out and one thing led to another and she was arrested and sent to the penitentiary to serve eighteen months on a drug charge.
Levi visited her often and told her was waiting for her, but Lucy could not take prison life and ended up over-dosing shortly before being released. Lucy’s death, coupled with the passing of his mother the year before, was too much for Levi. He started down a dark path of drinking and driving all through the western Mississippi/eastern Louisiana area (see song, “Levi After Lucy“).
He would not break out of this self-destructive behavior until he learned from Lucy’s mother, Mae Cooper, that before she died Lucy had given birth to Levi’s son whom Mae was raising and had named McCoy.