He will not be participating in tonight's' Jefferson Jackson dinner in Atlanta as scheduled. It is likely the family will return to their Chapel Hill, North Carolina residence this evening.
During his announcement Edwards told anecdotes of voters he me throughout his campaign -- ncluding a coal miner who lived without healthcare coverage for most of his life. "His amazing story gave this campaign voice, universal healthcare for every man woman and child."
Ending his bid, Edwards reassured the small crowd, "This son of a mill worker is gonna be just fine. And our job now is to make sure that American will be fine."
Edwards thanked all the staffers who have worked on his year plus campaign, and the voters he met in recent days as his campaign was coming to a close.
"I want you to know that you almost changed my mind," Edwards said.
He ended his announcement saying, "Thank you god bless you and let's go to work."
Edwards and his family then walked to the houses they stood in front of and began their immediate work rebuilding homes in 9th ward of New Orleans.
ABC News' Rick Klein and David Muir contributed to this report.