USC’s Josh Shaw made national headlines describing the circumstances that led to two sprained ankles. Less than 24 hours after details of the story were made public Monday, the legitimacy of the incident is being called into question.
USC head coach Steve Sarkisian announced Tuesday the school is investigating Shaw’s account of what happened. The senior said he was injured Saturday after jumping off a balcony to save his drowning nephew.
"Josh Shaw, first and foremost, is a good person and a good kid," Sarkisian said after Tuesday's practice. "He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night, and I have no reason and no history to not believe Josh and his story and what has occurred. Within the last few hours or so, we've gotten a few phone calls contradicting what Josh said occurred Saturday night, so we're going to continue to vet. We're looking at it. Beyond that, I only know what I know. Josh is adamant with what occurred, and we'll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk and our phones and see where we can go from there."
Shaw said he was at his cousin’s apartment in Palmdale Saturday night. While standing on a second floor balcony, he saw his 7-year-old nephew having trouble in the pool. He said he leaped onto the concrete and crawled into the pool, rescuing his nephew. Shaw says he sprained both ankles when he landed.
Since Sarkisian announced USC is looking into the matter, rumors have been circulating the defensive back did not injure his ankles while trying to save a relative. If Shaw is lying, it could turn into a major scandal for the senior, who was named a team captain just hours before the alleged incident.
“That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside,” Sarkisian initially said of Shaw’s story. “But that’s the kind of person he is. It is unfortunate that he’ll be sidelined for a while and we will miss his leadership and play, but I know he'll be working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible.” The comments were posted on the USC website.
ESPNLA.com said school officials have been unsure of the validity of the Shaw’s account. Sarkisian would not give any further details about who informed USC Shaw’s story is false. The Palmdale Sherrif's Station could not be reached for comment.
The injuries suffered by Shaw will keep him off the field indefinitely. Last year, he recorded four interceptions and 67 total tackles with the Trojans.