Athletes are typically known as heroes for their actions on the court. But last month, a prominent South Florida athlete extended his hero status into the real world.
Junior Jimmy Baxter, a forward for South Florida’s men’s basketball team, had a heroic moment in December when he pulled two people out of an overturned car.
“It was just human nature,” Baxter said. “God put me in the right place at the right time.”
The incident happened in Pinellas County at 7 p.m. when he was driving home.
Baxter saw the accident happen, and when he realized what could be done he reacted. He pulled over, then ran a half a mile back to rescue the driver and his son.
“My first instinct was to look. I looked and watched it flip over,” Baxter said. “By the time I had reacted I was already a half mile up the road.”
Although there were people passing by the wreck, Baxter was the only one to help the man and boy stranded upside down inside the car that flipped into a ditch half filled with water.
“(No one stopped) until I stopped them,” Baxter said. “I had to stop somebody and got something from them.”
Baxter showed that he has more than just a jump shot and a high vertical. “You know he has a good heart,” USF men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg said. “You don’t do what he did without having a good heart.”
After he got someone to pull over, he managed to get a crowbar. Baxter broke the passenger window and pulled out the boy.
“He grabbed my arm, and I grabbed his arm and I pulled him out,” Baxter said.
Baxter got the only acknowledgement from the deed that he needed when the boy gave him a hug.
“It made me feel pretty good,” Baxter said. “It made me feel real good actually.”
Last week, Baxter was honored by Tampa Mayor Dick Greco for his heroic act and is one of 10 nominees for the Moral Courage Award that will be announced this month.
“I don’t think I deserve all that,” Baxter said. “If my daughter and me were in the car, I would hope somebody would stop for me.”