A former college football receiver just made the catch of a lifetime when he saved a 3-year-old child thrown from the balcony of a burning building.
LIFESAVING CATCH: Eyewitness video shows Phillip Blanks – a former college wide receiver – sprint to the scene of a third-floor apartment fire in Phoenix before catching a small child thrown from a balcony; the mother of the child did not survive. https://t.co/CyIuiva87p pic.twitter.com/egzOxE5bFr— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) July 7, 2020
28-year-old Phillip Blanks made the life-saving grab on July 3rd as a fire consumed an apartment building near where he lives in Phoenix. He saw a 30-year-old mother on the third-floor balcony, desperate to save her toddler from the flames.
As the mother prepared to throw the child to safety, Blanks’ instincts kicked in, and he dove to catch the 3-year-old just in time.
“He was twirling in the air like a propeller,” Blanks told KABC-TV. “I just did my best. His head landed perfectly on my elbow. His ankle got twisted up as I was diving.”
In addition to his football career that prepared him for this pivotal moment, Blanks is also a retired US Marine who served in 12 countries after graduating from high school.
“There wasn’t much thinking. I just reacted. I just did it,” Blanks said. “It was all fast, it was a blur. It was tunnel vision as I was running. I didn’t see anything but the baby.”
He told the Washington Post that his training taught him to “always be on high alert, not be complacent and to have discipline.”
“The guy who was there with me … it looked like he wasn’t going to catch him. So that’s why I stepped in. I just wanted to make a better catch.”
Once the toddler was safe in Blanks’ arms, he was taken to a nearby hospital, along with his 8-year-old sister where the children were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The siblings’ mother was tragically killed in the fire.
“She’s the real hero of the story,” Blanks told ABC7. “Because she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children.”
Blanks played football at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan before playing college ball at Kalamazoo Valley College and Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California. He now works as a bodyguard and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.