Former Kalamazoo Central wide receiver Phillip Blanks saves boy from burning building

The boy's mother tossed him to safety before she perished in the fire

(Credit: ABC7/screenshot)

Former Kalamazoo Central wide receiver Phillip Blanks made the catch of a lifetime when he caught a child that had been dropped from a burning building.

Blanks, a retired U.S. Marine and former football player at Kalamazoo Central High School credited his instincts for helping after saving a boy’s life on July 5, ABC7 reported. He says didn’t think twice before performing his act of heroism.

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“He was twirling in the air like a propeller,” he recalled to the outlet. “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.”

The three-year-old named Jameson was dropped from a balcony in Phoenix, Arizona after fire engulfed his family’s home. He and his 8-year-old sister Roxxi were taken to the hospital to be treated for burns. Unfortunately, their mother Rachel Long died.

(Credit: Jess Wood/GoFundMe)

Blanks explained that he moved to Arizona last year and was visiting a friend last Friday for a work. He acted right away after listening to screams of help coming from outside.

 “I wasn’t able to grab my shoes,” Blank told MILive. “I ran down the stairs barefoot…” and then he started looking to see who needed help.

“As I was running, I see the baby getting ready to be tossed out of the patio,” Blanks said. “Next thing you know, he’s helicoptering in the air and I catch him.”

Blanks described the condition of the boy whose skin was “melting” and had an injured foot. The 28-year-old did his best to protect Jameson’s vital organs. He is currently searching the local hospitals to find out if there are any other ways he can help the now orphaned kids.

“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.”

His actions were caught on camera and shared on social media where he is being lauded as a hero. However, he didn’t feel it was necessary to be spotlighted as such. He says it was simply the right thing to do.

“In this situation if I could use this platform to get these kids some help, that’d be great,” Blanks said. “I don’t need any. I don’t want any help or too much recognition for this. I just feel like I was doing my job.”

He chose to honor their mother instead for her final act of love.

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“She’s the real hero of the story,” Blanks said. “Because she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children.”

Long’s family has created a GoFundMe to help her family during this time. Long’s daughter Roxxi is facing at least eight surgeries while her husband Corey is now a widower, taking care of Roxxi and Jameson.

The family announced that they were able to meet with Blanks and thank him for his good deed.

(Credit: Jess Wood/GoFundMe)

“They cried together, they prayed together, and they are hurting together. We have never been so grateful for the love of strangers. They will always be family now. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts <3,” Jess Wood wrote in a GoFundMe update.

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