University of Southern California star football player and team captain Josh Shaw told a tall tale about ankle injuries he sustained over the weekend. Shaw originally told his coaches he hurt both of his ankles jumping from a balcony to rescue his young nephew from drowning.
While USC officials, including coach Steve Sarkisian, initially believed Shaw and released a statement to press about the heroic rescue, which was trumpeted by national media. Rumors quickly began to circulate that Shaw was offering a highly revised version of the truth. In fact, after a brief investigation the football department is now calling the story a "complete fabrication."
The USC athletic department offered this statement on their blog:
We are extremely disappointed in Josh. He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.
I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him."
Shaw's lawyer, Donald Etra, speaking on behalf of Shaw, offered The Wire this statement via email:
On Saturday August 23, 2014, I injured myself in a fall. I made up a story about this fall that was untrue. I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to USC for this action on my part. My USC coaches, the USC Athletic Department, and especially coach Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career and for that, I am very grateful."
It is unclear exactly how Shaw sustained his injuries. The Wire asked Etra exactly how Shaw hurt both ankles and we will update in the event we receive a reply. It has been speculated the sprains may have something to do with a police report filed this weekend. LAPD spokeswoman Liliana Preciad told Adam Maya at Trojan Sports that Shaw was named in a police report, though not as a suspect in a crime. As per this police report, a witness said "They saw a black male with dreadlocks leave the apartment from the balcony." Then, police linked the "black male with dreadlocks" to Shaw:
Preciado said the officers then broke the door open and searched inside, but no one was there. A female resident who lives in the unit surfaced in the hallway shortly thereafter. She identified Josh Shaw as her boyfriend and said he matched the description of the man witnesses said jumped off the balcony. The third story is about 20 feet high from the ground."
Shaw, a fifth-year senior for the Trojans, has been suspended indefinitely.