U-M football great Braylon Edwards talks about saving elderly man's life in YMCA assault

Former Michigan football standout Braylon Edrwards is being hailed as a hero after intervening during the assault of an elderly man last Friday.

A 20-year-old suspect, Malik Ali Smith, has been arraigned in the assault of an 80-year-old victim inside the locker room.  He is charged with assault with intent to murder, which carries with it a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted. 

The elderly man remains hospitalized in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

Edwards was at the Farmington Hills YMCA when he overheard an argument involving loud music, then he said it sounded like it escalated into an assault. He said he heard screaming, eventually heard some fists and heard and eventually started to hear a thud, "like someone got their head banged against something."

"I didn't know he was, I thought the guy was 61, 62 (not 80 years old)," he said on the Ermanni and Edwards show on Woodward Sports Monday. "I knew it could have been a serious situation if I didn't step in,"

Police say that Edwards saw the 80-year-old man slumped over the counter and saw the suspect slam the elderly man's head into the counter. He then jumped in and pulled Smith off the victim. Smith then fled before being arrested nearby.

"I go back there and the guy is clearly younger than the other guy and taking advantage of him like he was about to bang his head against the ground or against the counter," Edwards said. "I was able to grab him take him away from the situation and get him out of the way.  And then eventually the EMS came and the guy took off. I was able to stop him from getting that last good lick in, if you will."

Edwards who hosts the show with FOX 2's Ryan Ermanni that airs 2-4 p.m. weekday, said the impact of saving the man has only really started to sink in.

"It wasn't until the detective called me Friday night - and cops they speak in black and white - Detective Jacobs, when he called to take my final statement and said 'If you didn't intervene, this guy would be dead,'" Edwards said. "He thanked me and that is when it started setting in."

The arraignment photo of Smith was released by the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office Monday.

"This was a vicious, senseless attack," said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald. "I commend the witness who intervened, and we will seek justice for this victim."

Edwards, who described himself as shy, said he appreciated the well wishes he has received since the incident. The former NFL veteran receiver added that numerous members of the pro football community have contacted him including former coaches Rex Ryan, Pete Carroll, and among his former teammates, Jason Taylor.

"I definitely was fine on my end, I had to do what I had to do," said Edwards, who made mention of some scrapes on his hand.

On his daily show that streams on FOX2Detroit.com/live, Edwards often complains about the current climate of social media where people decline to step in when witnessing something upsetting - instead opting to "stand there and film it" on their phones.

"We live in this world where everybody is always recording - and I think in the moment for me, the big thing was to react," he said. "I didn't want to do what I always say - I hate the recording, I hate people not helping, I hate people not stepping in - I was glad I was able to do (something)."

Braylon Edwards, inset: suspect Malik Ali Smith

Braylon Edwards, inset: suspect Malik Ali Smith