USC is investigating the veracity of senior cornerback Josh Shaw’s story that he injured both of his ankles while saving his 7-year-old nephew from drowning. USC announced on its website Monday that Shaw, a team captain, would be sidelined indefinitely with two high ankle sprains after leaping off the second-floor balcony of his cousin’s apartment complex in Palmdale, Calif., to rescue the boy from a pool.
“There’s been some question about the veracity of the story and everyone is looking into it,” USC spokesman Tim Tessalone said in a phone interview with SI.com on Tuesday afternoon. “We have no reason to believe Josh isn’t telling the truth based on the Josh Shaw that we know.”
USC officials expressed skepticism of Shaw’s story on Monday. However, after multiple school officials spoke with him, the school released the news to the media. The heroic story of Shaw risking his health to save his nephew quickly spread.
“He was able to crawl into the pool and ushered his nephew to safety,” USC reported. “Despite the intense pain in his legs, he was then able to grab the ladder and lift himself out of the pool with his upper body.”
Shaw was scheduled to meet with the media on Tuesday morning. USC cancelled that appearance after questions emerged. USC coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Trojans’ practice on Tuesday that the program had received calls contradicting Shaw’s story. “We’re going to vet it,” Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian added: "Beyond that I know what I know: Josh is adamant about what occurred and we're going to continue to vet some of the stories that have come across our desk or our phones and see what we have and go from there."
Shaw’s character has made it difficult for some to believe he could make up the story. His high school coach stood firmly behind his former player when told of USC’s investigation.
“That’s not Josh, that’s not Josh,” Palmdale High's Jeff Williams said. “He’s one of those guys that always does the right thing. His whole career. Even before high school. Talk about something being totally out of character. I would never, never think that.”