Marine Vet Who Played College Football Catches Child Thrown From Burning Balcony

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Phillip Blanks, a former wide receiver at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, made the best catch of his life when a 3-year-old boy was thrown off of a burning balcony at a Phoenix apartment complex. “Instinct. There wasn’t much thinking. I just reacted. I just did it,” he told ABC 7 about the incident.

“I know how to catch,” he says. “I’ve learned how to catch a football. So I’ll give some credit to football.”

Blanks, according to his Saddleback College football bio, played high school football in Kalamazoo, Michigan before joining the Marines and serving in 12 countries.

“He was twirling in the air like a propeller,” he recalled. “I just did my best. His head landed perfectly on my elbow. His ankle got twisted up as I was diving. 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.”

Blanks told his hometown newspaper that he’s now searching local hospitals for the children — the boy he caught and an 8-year-old girl — that were saved and trying to offer help. “I would honestly like to be involved in the kids’ lives,” Blanks said, “because I know they had a traumatic experience and I know that their lives have changed forever.” The mother of the boy didn’t survive the fire.

Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.


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