When the Lanham home where 13-year-old Taji Lee lived with his mother caught fire Nov. 29, he knew he had to jump into action to save her. His heroics were honored Friday by the Prince George's County Fire Department.
It was a week to the day after Thanksgiving when the fire broke out, forcing Taji to flee to a neighbor's house to call 911. However, his mother, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, was not able to make it out on her own.
That's when he ran back into the burning house and carried her out.
"When it really mattered, my son came through," Karen Lee, his mother, said. "I'll never forget that he screamed, 'I love you...I don't want you to die.'"
On Friday, Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor recognized the 8th grader in front of his peers.
"With the calm and courage of a seasoned rescuer, he pulled his mother from that home," Bashoor said. "He told me later on (that) it was like the fireman's carry."
Taji says he wasn't thinking of the spotlight when he risked his life to save his mom, but he's now settling into his new title - hero.
"A hero is defined by someone with great courage," he said. "I think that night I helped out my mom."