USC football player’s story about saving nephew questioned

University investigating claims that player hurt himself while saving nephew


The story of the University of Southern California football star who said he injured both ankles jumping off a balcony to save his nephew from drowning on Saturday night is coming under closer scrutiny after an incident at a Los Angeles apartment complex.

Josh Shaw, a senior cornerback named one of the team's captains, apparently told the school he was at a family party in Palmdale, Calif., Saturday when he saw his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, struggling in a pool. According to the Trojans' website, Shaw jumped from a second-story balcony onto concrete before dragging himself into the pool and rescuing his nephew, who doesn't know how to swim.

But questions about the story began to appear on social media. The Los Angeles Times reported that police responded the same night to reports of a woman screaming at an apartment complex about 60 minutes from  Shaw's family function. The police, according to the report, talked to one woman at the complex who saw a man run across a balcony and provided a description. Another woman at the complex was told about the man on the balcony, and said, "Sounds like my boyfriend, Josh Shaw," according to a report cited by an LAPD spokesman. Though the name was mentioned, the person was never named a suspect, police said.

"There is a mention of a Joshua Shaw in this report but not in terms of him being a suspect," a police spokesman said. "To make any link at this point would be premature."

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian, who is preparing his team to face Fresno State on Saturday, said the school is investigating the story.

"It’s pretty clear there’s quite a few conflicting stories out there," Sarkisian said after the team held practice Wednesday. "Any information we’ve been given we’ve pushed along to campus authorities and we’re going to let this play out. We're kind of in a holding pattern at this point.

"My main focus is on going out and playing a great game," he added. "I have another 104 football players in that locker room I have to prepare to play on Saturday."

Sarkisian said he had "no history to not believe Josh and his story." The first-year USC coach declined to discuss the discrepancies in detail, or the identity of the callers who contradicted the story. Shaw wasn't made available to reporters, and he didn't immediately return a phone message by the Associated Press Tuesday.

Although Shaw's injuries aren't expected to keep him out for the season, Sarkisian still wants to know exactly how they happened.

"I think it's important to know your players," Sarkisian 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 we do need to know. I think it's important to know in the direction we're headed."

Shaw is a team captain and a starter in the Trojans' secondary and is widely regarded as a solid teammate. The Florida transfer is a key component of USC's defensive secondary, considered one of the nation's best groups.

Shaw had four interceptions while starting 14 games last season, his second with the Trojans. He has played both safety and cornerback, moving around a defense with little depth due to NCAA sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.