In 2009, former Kalamazoo Central wide receiver Phillip Blanks caught a 30-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game, to beat arch-rival Loy Norrix.
According to a report by WSBT 22, for the last 11 years that catch was by far the biggest in his life. But for the former high school football star, that was about to change. On Friday, July 3, 2020, the 28-year-old retired U.S. Marine “made a diving catch for a 3-year-old boy who was dropped from the balcony of a burning, third floor apartment in Phoenix, Arizona.”
“People were screaming ‘there are kids up there’ and to throw the kids down,” Blanks said. “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. The way I caught him damaged his foot, but the most important thing is his head was safe.”
Blanks said he was up early to go work out with a friend, who lived next door to the burning apartment, the report said. Blanks heard the screaming, and without hesitation raced over to catch a young child he says was “twirling like a helicopter” as he fell through the air.
A report by The Arizona Republic, said the boy and his 8-year-old sister were critically injured in the fire.
The mother of the two children did not survive the fire, the report said.
Blanks said he made it his mission to “track those two children and their father down, and to help them as much as I can,” WSBT 22 reported.
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