But now he was a man despised by all of America.
Tweeting even after the bombings
Dzhokar had been more public with his life than his brother. More people stepped forward Friday with accounts of their relationships with him than they did about Tamerlan.
Dzhokar had a page on the Russian equivalent of Facebook on which he described his worldview as Islam.
He was active on Twitter and showed a certain amount of brazenness by continuing to tweet in the aftermath of the bombing.
"Ain't no love in the heart of the city. Stay safe people," he tweeted just hours after the bombings.
Tuesday, he called "fake" a story about a woman who died in Monday's bombings and was found by her boyfriend who was planning to propose.
He responded to someone else's tweet in a conversation about the victims: "Lol those people are cooked."
His friend, Giovanni, who only wanted his first name used, said Dzhokar was even joking on Twitter about "how he had like a dream about eating a cheeseburger and then he was like, 'And the next day, what did I have next?'
"And I responded (on Twitter) in a joking way, 'A hot dog?'
"And here I am, like, having a conversation with this guy not knowing what he was doing or what he did."
Giovanni said he played video games with Dzhokar, but hadn't seen him in person since January. He said his friend had told him he was engaged to be married, even showing him a photo of his supposed fiancée on his phone.
"He was always just quiet, quiet in a nice (way)," Giovanni said. "You just wouldn't suspect that he'd do something so messed up."
And he said Dzhokar was particular about his identity.
"He used to tell us he's the only Chechens ... we'd ever come across," Giovanni said. "Sometimes they'd call him Russian and he'd always correct me."
He said he didn't know much about Tamerlan; only that Dzhokar had said his older brother was a boxer.
"A year ago when I met him ... to think. I had no idea I'd be friending such a messed up person. You just think, 'Oh, he seems nice, he seems innocent.'"
Dzhokar worked for a time as a lifeguard at a pool at Harvard University, said George McMasters, who hired him about 2½ years ago.
McMasters was impressed with Dzhokar's work ethic.
"He showed up on time, he watched the water, he rotated from position to position fine, got along well with others."