KALAMAZOO, Mich. — 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 in 2009.
For the last 11 years that catch was by far the biggest in his life. Until Friday, July 3, 2020 when the retired U.S. Marine made a diving catch of 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."
The 28-year-old Blanks said he was up early to go workout with a friend who lived next door to the apartment when he 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.
According to a Phoenix news report, 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.
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."