USC CB Josh Shaw admits heroic story was 'complete fabrication'

Josh Shaw Admits to Fabricating Story

AUG 28, 12:36 am
After Josh Shaw admitted to fabricating the story of his injury, USC suspended the defensive back indefinitely. Matt Leinart, Petros Papadakis, Donovan McNabb and Clay Travis make sense of it.

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California cornerback Josh Shaw has admitted to lying to school officials about how he sprained his ankles last weekend, retracting his story about jumping off a balcony to save his drowning nephew.

Shaw has been suspended indefinitely from all of the Trojans' team activities after acknowledging his heroic tale was "a complete fabrication," the school announced in a statement Wednesday.

The school didn't explain how Shaw actually was injured, but USC officials say they regret posting a story on their website Monday lauding Shaw's story about a second-story jump onto concrete to rescue his 7-year-old nephew.

"We are extremely disappointed in Josh," USC coach Steve 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."

Shaw is a fifth-year senior, a team captain and a key starter in USC's defensive secondary, widely regarded as a solid teammate and an important team leader for the 15th-ranked Trojans, who begin their first season under Sarkisian at the Coliseum on Saturday against Fresno State.

Shaw issued a short statement through an attorney on Wednesday after being suspended.

"On Saturday, August 23, 2014, I injured myself in a fall," Shaw said. "I made up a story about this fall that was untrue. I was wrong not to 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."

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman spoke with Donald Etra, Shaw's attorney, on Wednesday afternoon, and Etra stated there is no criminal case or investigation involving Shaw. Asked why Shaw would need an attorney if there's no criminal case, Etra responded, "Intelligent people hire lawers."

Since Shaw officially hired him on Wednesday, Etra told FOX Sports, he can provide Shaw with advice if he needs it.

Regarding speculation that Shaw injured himself while trying to run away from police, Etra told FOX Sports, "I'm confident he was not running from anything."

Within hours after Shaw's tale was made public, the football program received phone calls contradicting Shaw's version of his injuries. Sarkisian has not said who made the calls, but the school acknowledged the discrepancies Tuesday morning and began investigating Shaw, who initially stuck to his story.

"I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized," Sarkisian said. "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 didn't attend practice Wednesday, missing his second straight day of workouts.

Sarkisian insisted the situation won't be a distraction for the Trojans, but still allowed only two of Shaw's defensive teammates to speak with the media after practice Wednesday morning.

Linebacker Hayes Pullard and defensive lineman Leonard Williams both acknowledged surprise at the situation that developed after Shaw's account was challenged, but remained supportive of their fifth-year senior captain.

"We were pretty shocked," said Williams, who hasn't spoken to Shaw. "Josh Shaw is a pretty loyal guy. I would never expect him to make up a story. I would never expect that out of him as a team leader."

Shaw's leadership and character were widely praised throughout his first two seasons of play at the school. He transferred back to his native Los Angeles area from Florida, in part to help out his ailing grandfather with the family landscaping business.

"Josh has been a great guy," Pullard said. "He has great character. I've never known him to lie about anything ... so it's surprising. This is exactly when our leadership roles come in. We talk to guys and let them know what's expected, and we'll keep us focused on our team."

Sarkisian hadn't even coached his first game at USC before the high-profile program presented another challenge for its fourth head coach in less than a year.

Sarkisian, a former USC baseball player and a longtime football assistant coach to Pete Carroll, knows all about the extra attention paid to the Trojans, who are in the final year of extensive NCAA sanctions for violations committed under Carroll, and he remains confident he can handle the latest round of extracurricular troubles.


Sarkisian said Thursday that the suspended Shaw could "potentially" return to the Trojans at some point this season.

"Obviously there's some other things that need to take place," Sarkisian said Thursday after USC's practice. "But in the meantime, he's got to take care of his health and take care of himself, and when the time is right to bring him back, we will."

Sarkisian also expressed regret for USC's decision to publicize Shaw's tall tale, saying it "had as much to do with me as anybody else."

"Moving forward, we'll be a little bit more patient," Sarkisian added. "I just felt like the last thing we needed was Josh Shaw rolling around in a wheelchair and everybody saying what happened. We tried to get in front of it, and it didn't work out for us, but again, it's disappointing, but we'll always continue to support Josh in his efforts. He's a Trojan. He made a mistake, which kids make, but we've got to be here for them and help them get better."

The first-year coach said Shaw still hasn't told the Trojans exactly how he sprained both of his ankles last weekend but Sarkisian didn't seem concerned.

"He was unable to," Sarkisian said. "(When) he actually admitted to us that he was lying, it was in the presence of his attorney, and so really that's a better question for his attorney. He didn't tell us, and we weren't really privy to ask, quite honestly."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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