At first the 28-year-old was not sure what the noise outside his building was and left his apartment to investigate what he thought was a fight.
As he was leaving the building he heard someone shout “fire,” so ran outside and over to the patio underneath the mother’s apartment.
Mr Blanks managed to catch the child just before he hit the ground and carried the three-year-old to safety.
“He was twirling in the air like a propeller,” he told ABC. “I just did my best. His head landed perfectly on my elbow.”
The former Marine, who now works in security, told ABC that the catch was instinct, and added: “There wasn’t much thinking. I just reacted. I just did it.
“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.”
Mr Blanks who played as a wide receiver for Saddleback College in California, said the training during his playing days helped him save the child.
“I know how to catch,” he said. “I’ve learned how to catch a football. So I’ll give some credit to football.”
He also credited his time in the US Marines, and added: “I can definitely credit to the Marine Corps for instilling this good training in me to save a life. I don’t see myself as a hero. A person trained to do my job is trained to protect people.”
Although Mr Blanks was able to save the son in the fire, the mother died as she was not able to get out of the building herself after throwing her child to safety.
“She’s the real hero of the story,” Mr Blanks said. “Because she made the ultimate sacrifice to save her children.”