Police are praising former NFL WR Braylon Edwards for saving

Police are praising former NFL WR Braylon Edwards for saving a man's life during a YMCA attack

Former NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards intervened Friday to stop an alleged attack on an 80-year-old man in a locker room at a Detroit YMCA, Farmington Hills Police Chief Jeff King said.

“Based on the significant injuries inflicted on the victim, it is clear that Mr. Braylon Edwards’ intervention played a critical role in saving the victim’s life,” King said in a statement. “This is a terrible incident, but Mr. Edwards’ selfless efforts embody the best in our society.”

The incident occurred when a verbal exchange between a 20-year-old man, identified as Malik Ali Smith, and the 80-year-old man led to a physical altercation, leaving the 80-year-old in critical but stable condition local hospital, police said.

Smith was arrested after fleeing the gym. On Monday, authorities charged him with assault with intent to murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He was given a $250,000 bond and is being held at the Oakland County Jail in Michigan.

“It has been reported that my client is a violent person, and that is simply not the case,” attorney Christopher Quinn II, who represents Smith, told the Detroit News. “He is a young man and has a history of mental health issues.”

Edwards, 41, told Detroit station WDIV that he went into the locker room and overheard an argument about someone playing music too loudly.

“I’m not paying attention, it’s none of my business,” Edwards said. “The noise escalates and then you hear pushing and shoving – you know what fighting sounds like – you hear a scuffle and a few fists. I heard a dull noise that woke me up. That’s what made me turn back.”

Edwards said he saw the alleged attacker “grab the back of the victim's head by the hair and was about to slam him onto the counter.” Edwards then said he “grabbed the younger man and subdued him.”

Edwards said he was initially unaware that he may have saved the older man's life.

“That’s what you do,” Edwards said. “People go to training, they have a good time, they live 80 years and that’s not their expectation that something might take their life.”

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

Edwards, a college star at Michigan, was selected in the first round by the Cleveland Browns in the 2005 draft. He spent eight seasons in the NFL and also played for the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. During his career, he accumulated 359 catches for 5,522 yards and 40 touchdowns.

(Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)