ATLANTA, Ga. - When cruising through Atlanta, you're almost as likely to see someone wearing Michael Vick's number 7 jersey as you are to spot a Coca-Cola sign on a street named Peachtree.
"I haven't played here in 10 or 12 years, you still get that type of warm reception - it's something you'll never forget," Vick told News 3 Friday in Atlanta.
Vick, who rewrote the Atlanta Falcons record book after the team used the number one overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft to select the quarterback, admits Atlanta helped put him on the map. But for the Newport News native, all roads lead home to Virginia.
Home is home. Every time I have a chance to go back, I appreciate it. My family is still there, my Mom and my sisters. I That's where I grew up. That's where my dream began. Without the city of Newport News, without the state of Virginia - without their support, there would be no Michael Vick.
Vick says Newport News is where the dream started. It's also where defenses first figured out he was nightmare to try and stop.
"I made some plays in this game - and my coach told me afterwards that I would make it to the National Football League - just because of the way I played."
As Vick watched highlights of his days playing for Warwick High School, he's looking at a guy many recruiters looked at as the second-best prospect on the peninsula. Hampton High School's Ronald Curry, also a quarterback, led his team to three straight state championships.
"That's what happened at Virginia Tech. They knew they had no shot at Ronald Curry so they're going for the next best thing."
Curry went to the University of North Carolina. Vick ended up in the Virginia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame. Responsible for the two most exciting seasons in program history, Michael led the Hokies to their first national title game appearance in 1999.
But it's another title game, the 2004 NFC Championship in Vick's fourth season in the NFL, that gave him his first bite of success. And to this day, it still leaves a bitter taste.
Probably one of the biggest disappointments was not getting back to the AFC or NFC Championship game. That's what you played for - you wanna have a chance to play in the big game. i got there so easy in 2004, i thought I would get back and I never got back.
This week, he's part of the biggest game on the globe - albeit as an analyst for Fox Sports. And as the world sets its sights on Super Bowl LIII and the city of Atlanta, one of the greatest athletes to ever call the ATL home never loses sight of his home.
"You look around The 757 and see guys that have made it out. You can't do it on your own. Invite somebody into your life, open up a little bit - and don't feel like you're always being vulnerable."