LOS ANGELES – A day after it deemed Josh Shaw a hero, USC backtracked on the story.
The sports and social-media worlds were set abuzz Monday when USC published on its website a heroic story about cornerback Shaw saving a nephew in distress in a swimming pool.
But the narrative took a turn Tuesday when USC coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters the school had received calls questioning the veracity of the story and that university officials are investigating.
“We’re going to continue to vet it and we’re looking at it,” said Sarkisian, previously coach of the Washington Huskies.
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USC announced Monday that senior Shaw, 22, injured both ankles after he leapt from a second-floor balcony during a family function in Palmdale, Calif., to save his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, who could not swim.
USC’s story included statements from Shaw (“I would do it again for whatever kid it was; it did not have to be my nephew”) and Sarkisian, who said, “That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside.”
Shaw, who started his college career at Florida, was absent from practice Tuesday.
“Numerous people checked and vetted his story in various ways,” said Tim Tessalone, USC sports information director. “We felt it was solid.”
Tessalone said Shaw was asked repeatedly about his story again Monday and Tuesday and said Shaw stood by his account.
Sarkisian said, “Josh is adamant with what occurred and we’ll continue to vet some of the other stories that have come across our desk or across our phones, and see where we can go from there.”
Sarkisian, who said he had “no history to not believe Josh and his story,” declined to discuss the discrepancies in detail, or reveal the identity of the callers who contradicted Shaw’s account.
Meantime, Lt. Andy Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday a man named Joshua Shaw was mentioned — but not as a suspect — in a police report involving a Saturday-night break-in at a downtown apartment building.
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