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PHOENIX – A former high school football star and retired U.S. Marine is being hailed as a hero after he saved an Arizona toddler from a burning building in Phoenix last week.

According to WWMT, Phillip Blanks, 28, caught the 3-year-old boy, who was dropped from a third-floor apartment early Friday as a fire raged inside. 

“People were screaming, ‘There are kids up there’ and to throw the kids down,” Blanks, who was a wide receiver at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan and later joined the Marines, told WWMT. “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.”

Blanks caught the boy, whose foot was injured in the fall, and brought him to safety, the news outlet reported. 

The toddler and his 8-year-old sister suffered critical injuries, authorities told the Arizona Republic. The children’s 30-year-old mother died in the blaze, the newspaper reported.

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