'I knew I would come home' wrongfully imprisoned in China 3 years, Detroit man grateful to be out

"I wake up in the bed and I'm like wow. I'm with my family and I’m like - wow. Like, thank you, father, I'm home," said Wendell Brown.

Brown will never take anything for granted again. Not his bed, not his grandmother's banana pudding and certainly not his freedom. It's been three years since he's had any of those things -- until now.

"I'm so thankful," he said. "So many people are to thank for me actually sitting here and me speaking to you right now."

Just days ago, Brown walked out of a Chinese prison, sentenced to jail after a bar fight there. It didn't matter that the evidence showed he was falsely accused. It was 2016 and the Detroit football star who had been coaching football in China was now a prisoner there.

"A guilty verdict - four years," said Antoinette Brown, his mother, a couple years ago.

FOX 2's Ryan Ermanni followed the story for years as Brown's mother, Antoinnette, and a community of international supporters appealed that verdict and fought for his release.

"Because they were there fighting for me when I couldn't fight for myself - they uplifted me," he said.

Wendell says he passed the time in prison in prayer. Antoinette asked the American embassy to take her son a Bible. The mother and son wrote letters of encouragement to each other. Wendell wrote them in English and Chinese, always staying positive.

"Don't allow negativity to creep in - and turn your light off and become darkness," he said. "Be light - be love, always spread it and everything will work," 

"Even going through what he was going through, I was just extremely proud of his strength," Wendell's mother, Antoinette, said. "I was just extremely proud of his strength."

And it's here when this mother and son talk about their bond.

"We love you, we're fighting for you, we're waiting on you," his mother said.

They both can't help but shed a tear.

"I mean, I love this young man," Antoinette said.

"I love you, too, mom," Wendell said. "I love you, too, mama, Thank you so much. Thank you."

So much gratitude, so many memories to make. Wendell has a 12-year-old son of his own and a lot of time to make up with everyone.
"I'm finally here and I'm going to love my family and friends harder than I ever loved them before," he said. "I knew I would come home. I knew it. I'm here, I'm here, I'm here, I'm home."