"I'll probably start crying," said Chandrea Graves.
It's a homecoming long overdue.
"The fact that he's coming home is a good feeling, a real good feeling," said Tyre Faison.
It's a joyous day for dozens of family and friends of Michael Jerrido. It's also a day to come to grips, with what was taken.
"He stole everything from him really, he could have been in the NFL doing something positive with his life," said Jamal Shackerford.
Last February, the football standout from Countryside High School was at a party near his California college when police say 21-year-old Tytus Maka attacked him.
Police charged Maka with attempted homicide after witnesses say Maka continued hitting Jerrido after he was already unconscious on the ground. The attack left Jerrido with a serious brain injury.
"Us being a close knit family, it just tore the family apart," said Pamela Harvey.
Jerrido, a scholarship athlete and diligent student, was nearly 2,500 miles from home in a hospital bed. Insurance wouldn't cover a medical transport to bring him home.
"They didn't think he would make it this far but god brought him this far and he's not about to leave him now," said Ireatha Poole.
And neither did his community. With the help of Congressman David Jolly and Jet ICU. The normally $55,000 flight was free.
Jet ICU flew Jerrido from California to Atlanta for treatment and rehabilitation. Then another flight from Atlanta to Tampa Bay.
"Michael and Sheri have had a very long journey and they have a journey still to continue but now its at home and thats a special thing and its why family and friends are here to celebrate," said Congressman David Jolly.
On Wednesday, those closest too him lined the tarmac with balloons and signs. Welcoming Jerrido home for the first time in nearly a year, his mother by his side.
"He still has to have rehabilitation, we're trying to get his mobility back, he's more alert now, he'll answer you but he has to use his head of course," said Sherrie Williams, Michaels mother.
A long road surely made easier with the out pouring of love he received today.
"I think he knew cause he heard a lot of the voices, so he knew," said Williams.