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Standing 6'10" at 237 lb, Bonner was drafted out of the University of Florida by the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd round of the 2003 NBA Draft and then traded to the Toronto Raptors. While playing for the Florida Gators, Bonner amassed 1,570 points 778 rebounds and 165 three pointers and finished his career ranked in the top 10 in six categories. Bonner graduated from Florida with a 3.96 GPA and was named the Verizon Academic All-American of the Year for the sport of basketball in both 2002 and 2003
Toronto recognized the future potential in Bonner but did not have a roster position available. Bonner was asked to spend a year in Europe honing his skills with a verbal promise to give him a shot at making the team in 2004.
Bonner signed with the Raptors during the 2004-05 NBA season, averaging 7.2 points per game whilst playing all 82 contests. Matt received the nickname "Red Rocket" during the same season in which he was constantly sighted on the public transit in Toronto, the Toronto Transit Commission(TTC), whose streetcars are red and slogan is 'Ride the Rocket'.
Matt Bonner's first prominent moment as a Raptor occurred on December 2004 during an exciting game at the Air Canada Centre. Extending for a rebound, he knocked all-star Kevin Garnett from behind, sending him sprawling to the ground prompting the two players to get into a heated exchange. The crowd chanted "Bonner, Bonner" as he was ejected from the game. This immediately established Matt as a fan favorite with Raptors fans rallying behind Bonner.
In the 2005-06 season Bonner played 78 games averaging 7.5 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game and shot 44.8% from the field. He ranked 14th in the NBA in three-point percentage, and was one of the first players the Raptors looked to for three-point shots.