Phillip Blanks, 28, was filmed in a heart-stopping video diving to catch the 3-year-old boy as he was dropped from the balcony of the burning third-floor apartment in Phoenix, Arizona, Friday, July 3, 2020.
“People were screaming, ‘There are kids up there’ and to throw the kids down,” Blanks, who was a wide receiver at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan and later joined the Marines, told WWMT. “I saw another guy was standing there ready to catch the boy, but he didn’t look like he was going to do it, so I stepped in front of him.”
Blanks said he was going for a workout with a friend who lived next door to the apartment when he heard the screaming and quickly rushed to the building to catch a young child he says was “twirling like a helicopter” as he fell through the air.
The former college wide receiver caught the boy and brought him to safety, the news outlet reported. The toddler and his 8-year-old sister suffered critical injuries but their 30-year-old mother died in the blaze, authorities told the Arizona Republic.