Senior cornerback and co-captain Josh Shaw has been indefinitely suspended from all football activities after he admitted to lying about the nature of the ankle injuries he suffered on Saturday night.
On Sunday, USC Athletics released a statement saying that Shaw was out after suffering two high ankle sprains sustained after jumping off a balcony at a family function in Palmdale, California. The statement claimed that Shaw jumped in order to save his nephew from drowning in a pool below.
The fabricated story garnered national attention, and Shaw was lauded as a hero by his teammates and the media.
But following Tuesday morning’s practice, head coach Steve Sarkisian disclosed that USC received phone calls questioning the validity of the story and that the Athletic Department would investigate.
Despite the media firestorm that ensued, coaches and players reaffirmed their faith in Shaw’s character, stating that he had always demonstrated integrity both on and off the field.
On Tuesday evening, ABC 7 news aired a phone interview with Shaw’s sister, Asia. She vouched for her brother and reiterated his story about injuring himself while jumping from a balcony, despite admitting that she was not present at the family function.
More conflicting information emerged when Shaw was named in an Los Angeles Police Department report on Wednesday morning. Officers responded to a woman screaming in her apartment on the 500 block of Figueroa Street on Saturday night. The woman identified herself as Shaw’s girlfriend and witnesses described a man with dreadlocks fleeing from the balcony, which matches Shaw’s description.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Shaw came to USC’s Athletic Department on Wednesday afternoon with his family and his lawyer and admitted to fabricating the entire story about rescuing his nephew.
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” Sarkisian told USCTrojans.com. “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.”
Sarkisian explained further.
“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Though 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 issued the following statement via his lawyer, Donald Etra: “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.”
Etra has also represented celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and Rihanna in high profile cases.
According to Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman, Shaw hired Etra on Wednesday as a precaution. As of now, there is no criminal investigation involving Shaw.
“I’m confident he was not running from anything,” Etra told Feldman.
USC’s Athletic Department issued an apology for running the original story and has since removed the article from its website.