USC football senior cornerback Josh Shaw admitted Wednesday he fabricated a story about injuring his ankles by leaping from a second-floor balcony to save his 7-year-old nephew from a swimming pool.
As a result, Shaw was suspended indefinitely from all team activities.
Shaw issued a statement through his attorney, Donald Etra, saying he “injured myself in a fall” on Saturday.
“I made up a story about this fall that was untrue,” he said. “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 (Steve) Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career and for that, I am very grateful.”
Shaw made headlines Monday when the university announced that he had suffered two high-ankle sprains by jumping from a balcony during a family gathering in Palmdale to save his nephew on Saturday. Shaw said he saw the boy, who cannot swim, struggling in a pool and instinctively jumped from the balcony to the concrete below. He said he then crawled to the pool and pulled the boy to safety.
On Tuesday, Sarkisian said the university had received calls contradicting Shaw’s story. Sarkisian said university officials had begun looking into the reports.
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” Sarkisian said. “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.”
The university did not disclose any details about how Shaw actually injured his ankles.
Los Angeles police said the name “Josh Shaw” was included in a police report about a reported burglary at an apartment near the USC campus Saturday night. Witnesses said they saw a person climbing on the building, and when police interviewed a woman who lives at the building, she said the suspect’s description seemed to match her boyfriend, who she identified as “Josh Shaw”—although it was unclear if she was referring to the football player.
Sarkisian said he appreciated that Shaw admitted his initial story was a lie.
“Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable,” Sarkisian said. “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.”