An act of heroism by an illegal immigrant in Paris not only saved a child's life but earned the Mali-born migrant his French citizenship.
In a moment captured on video that quickly went viral, Mamoudou Gassama, a 22-year-old immigrant from Mali who entered France illegally, scaled five stories of an apartment building to rescue a 4-year-old who was dangling from a balcony. The large crowd of people looking on in horror as the boy's life literally hung in the balance found their fear turn to relief then elation as the young hero reached him.
Below is video of the harrowing moment where "Spider-Man," as he has since been dubbed, rescues the child:
On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that he had rewarded Gassama for his "courage and devotion" by offering him French citizenship as well as a potential job as a firefighter, since Gassama expressed a desire to contribute to society in a meaningful way and his heroism proved he was cut out for the job.
In his meeting with Macron Monday, Gassama described the moment that saved one life and changed his own. "I ran. I crossed the street to save him," he told Macron, saying he didn't think twice about trying to rescue the child. "When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing."
Gassama said God helped him in his efforts. He only felt fear, he said, after he reached the boy and pulled him to safety. "Thank God I saved him," he said.
"You saved a child. Without you, no one knows what would have become of him," Macron told Gassama. "You need courage and the capability to do that." Because of his "exceptional act," said Macron, "we are obviously, today, going to regularize all your papers."
CBS reports that while Gassama says he was authorized to stay legally in Italy, he traveled to France to join his older brother, who has lived in the country for decades.
CBS also notes that the incident didn't turn out well for everyone: The father of the boy — who left him alone so he could go shopping and stayed out even longer than he planned for a game of Pokemon Go — was temporarily detained for neglect and is scheduled to appear in court in September.