Phillip Blanks, Former Saddleback College Receiver, Catches Child Thrown From Burning Building

Phillip Blanks, a former wide receiver for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, recently made the biggest catch of his life. A mother threw her son from the balcony of an apartment during a fire, attempting to save his life. Blanks made the catch and saved the child.

Video shows the mother throwing her 3-year-old son from the balcony as massive flames poured out of the apartment. As the child fell toward the ground, Blanks — a retired U.S. Marine — ran and made a diving catch. He then carried the boy to safety while bystanders yelled for the mother to jump off the balcony. Both the 3-year-old and his 8-year-old sibling went to a local hospital. Medical professionals treated them for non-life-threatening injuries.

"Instinct. There wasn't much thinking. I just reacted. I just did it," Blanks told ABC7. "[...] He was twirling in the air like a propeller. 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 reporters that he was at home when he heard a commotion. He thought there was a fight, so he went out to look. Once he heard someone say "fire," Blanks ran outside barefoot. The first thing he saw was the burning apartment and the mother preparing to throw the child. He ran up and made the catch in time.

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Throwing her child from the balcony ultimately became the 30-year-old mother's final act as she died in the fire. "She's the real hero of the story," Blanks said. "Because she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children."

The cousin of retired Cincinnati Reds player Barry Sanders and Utah Jazz star Mike Conley, Blanks spent 2016-17 with the Saddleback College Gauchos. Before this stint in Southern California, he completed his general studies at Kalamazoo Valley College in Michigan. Blanks also served in 12 different countries during his time in the U.S. Marines.