Things had finally begun to look up for the Graziano family after more than four years of tragedy and strife that started when 23-year-old John suffered severe head injuries in a car crash.
Now, John's 24-year-old brother, Michael Graziano, is in critical condition in a hospital bed, injured in a car crash early Tuesday that was strikingly similar to the crash that nearly killed his brother.
Both were passengers in cars that were speeding and lost control. Both suffered serious head injuries.
It's their worst nightmare," said George Tragos, a Clearwater lawyer who is close with the family. "They are devastated. It couldn't be a worse situation."
He declined to discuss Michael's medical condition and said the family has asked for privacy.
The family released this statement Tuesday morning:
"It is time for prayer. The family is just begging for prayers for Michael and to keep them healing."
Michael Graziano was the passenger in a 1994 Volvo that hit a dump truck about 3 a.m. in Largo. Neither he nor the driver was wearing a seat belt, the Florida Highway Patrol said. Alcohol did not appear to be involved.
The Volvo, driven by Cameron Richard Bosley, 24, of Dunedin, was westbound on Ulmerton Road at a high rate of speed, troopers said. They tried to overtake the dump truck at 66th Street North, and the front of the Volvo hit the back of the truck, troopers said.
The truck driver, Steven Edward Brady, 57, of Lakeland, was not hurt. No charges were immediately filed.
Bosley was in fair condition late Tuesday, troopers said. He and Graziano were taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. It is the same hospital where John Graziano was treated in 2007.
John was the passenger in a car driven by Nick Bollea, wrestling great Hulk Hogan's son. John's mother, Debra, has been caring for him at home, said Tragos, who represented the family in a civil lawsuit.
Michael had been involved in John's rehabilitation process, Tragos said.
John's crash was the beginning of some dark times for the Dunedin family. The public witnessed the disintegration of the family, including a fight between Michael and his father, Ed, in the hospital where John was being treated; the plot by Ed Graziano to kill Debra, his estranged wife; and the court case against the Bollea family. Hulk Hogan's given name is Terry Bollea.
The Bollea crash sparked a legal battle between the Grazianos and the once-wealthy Bolleas. The Grazianos sought millions of dollars, which they said they intended to use for John's medical care. The case played itself out on television and in tabloids across the nation. The sides settled out of court in 2010.
Nick Bollea pleaded guilty to reckless driving and served 166 days of an eight-month sentence at the Pinellas County Jail.
About 18 months after the Bollea crash, Ed Graziano was charged in a plot to hire someone to kill his wife. Investigators said Ed Graziano met with an undercover detective posing as a contract killer and offered to pay him $2,100 and a pizza gift card worth $13.06.
In 2011, Ed Graziano pleaded no contest to solicitation to commit murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 10 years' probation.
In an interview in November, Debra Graziano said the case involving John robbed the family of its anonymity and left her son needing constant care, but, she said she felt no ill will toward the Bollea family.
"I have so many things to deal with, so many layers of issues," Debra Graziano said. "If I allow myself to feel anger and bitterness, I would not be able to have a drop of joy in me."
After eight months of hospital treatment and two years of rehabilitation at James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital, John Graziano, an Iraq war veteran, returned home and remained under the care of his mother, brother and sister, Christin.
Debra Graziano recalled in the interview the night John was injured and the rush to the hospital.
Michael lifted the bandage on John's head. His mother looked away.
"He picked it up and I remember him backing up and going, 'Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God,' " Debra Graziano said.
It appeared better times were coming for the Graziano family, Tragos said.
"Everybody thinks their worst times are over," he said.