Less than 24 hours after the story of USC cornerback Josh Shaw risked great personal safety to save his drowning 7-year-old nephew broke the Internet and became the heartwarming story of the preseason, USC coach Steve Sarkisian said the school is looking into its validity.
Sarkisian said during his press conference on Tuesday that the school received several calls contradicting Shaw’s version of events and that the school is vetting the story.
"Within the last few hours or so, we've gotten a few phone calls contradicting what Josh said occurred Saturday night, so we're going to continue to vet it," Sarkisian said. "We're looking at it, but beyond that, I only know what I know and Josh is adamant with what occurred and we'll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk and come across our phones and see if we can go from there."
Shaw told USC’s official blog, USCRipsIt.com, that he had been at a family party when he was standing on the second-floor balcony, looked down and saw his 7-year-old nephew struggling in the pool. Without regard to personal safety, Shaw said he jumped from the balcony, landed on the concrete below, suffered two high ankle sprains, crawled to the pool, rescued the boy and somehow managed to pull himself out of the water as well.
What a fantastic and heroic story, right? Too bad it might not be what really happened.
Neither the LAPD or the Palmdale, Calif., Sheriff Station — Palmdale, Calif., is where Shaw's cousin lives — has any record of an incident with Shaw.
USC is in serious damage control mode right now as it tries to separate fact from fiction, but Sarkisian is sticking by Shaw saying he’s never given the coaching staff any reason to doubt what he says to be true.
"Josh Shaw is a good person, he's a good kid," Sarkisian said. "He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night and I have no reason, no history to not believe Josh and his story and what has occurred."
Shaw’s sister, Asia, mother of the 7-year-old boy Josh supposedly saved, said she was not at the family event and that the child was in the care of another brother named Justin.
"The one who was supposed to be watching him turned away for a second," she told USA Today. "And Josh, who is on the balcony, saw the incident and reacted."
Asia Shaw said the police were not called to the house because the boy was never in respiratory distress, but she did note the boy could not swim.
She also called reports that Shaw was injured during a burglary “speculation.”
Shaw’s ankle injuries will keep him sidelined an indefinite amount of time and if he’s found to have massaged the truth as to how the injury occurred, well, he may have added punishment as well.
Sarkisian told media he would give an update once the program had completed its review of the events.
“I think it’s important to know your team, I think it’s important to know your players,” Sarkisian said. “Like I said, Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us. He’s given me no reason not to believe what he has told us that occurred, but you need to know. I think it’s important to know the direction that we head in.”
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