Phillip Blanks was a wide receiver in college but made the most important catch of his life Friday.
The 28-year-old caught a three-year-old boy who was thrown from the balcony of a third-floor Phoenix apartment that was on fire.
"I just had tunnel vision on the patio, and when the boy got thrown off the balcony, it was just me and the boy," Blanks told ABC7 News. "I didn't hear anything, I didn't see anything else."
The boy's 30-year-old mother, Rachel Long, died in the fire shortly after saving her child.
"The mother, she is the real hero of the story because she made the ultimate sacrifice to get her children out," Blanks said.
The boy and his eight-year-old sister, who was rescued by a different samaritan, "were rushed to the hospital with burns but are expected to survive," according to ABC7 News.
Blanks played receiver at Saddleback College in Southern California and also served in the United States Marines Corps while spending time in 12 different countries.