USC announced Wednesday afternoon that it had suspended star cornerback Josh Shaw after Shaw admitted to team officials that the heroic story he told about spraining both ankles while saving his 7-year-old nephew from drowning was a lie.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. USC Announced That Shaw Lied to the Team About Saving His Nephew’s Life
Josh Shaw admitted to USC officials that the story about saving his nephew from drowning is a complete fabrication. http://t.co/p0t7q9PZF3
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) August 27, 2014
The team announced Shaw’s suspension in a news release Wednesday afternoon.
Coach Steve Sarkisian, who said Tuesday that Shaw was a good person who’d given the team no reason in the past to suspect he was lying, issued a statement saying that he was “extremely disappointed” in Shaw.
Per the team’s news release, Sarkisian said:
“We are extremely disappointed in Josh. 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.
“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. 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.
The announcement of the suspension came two days after USC sent out a news releasing trumpeting the heroics of Shaw, who had recently been voted a team captain.
2. Shaw Has Hired a Criminal Defense Attorney Who Has Represented Snoop Dogg & Fran Drescher
USC said in its news release that Shaw has hired Donald Etra as his attorney, and that Etra would soon be issuing a statement on Shaw’s behalf.
Etra, 67, is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney who began his career working for iconic consumer advocate (and future presidential candidate) Ralph Nader in the early 1970s.
According to a bio on Etra’s website, the attorney represented The Nanny star Fran Drescher in a 1999 lawsuit brought by a stuntwoman who claimed she was injured during filming of the Beautician and the Beast.
Etra represented Snoop Dogg twice in 2007: One when the rapper was charged with transporting marijuana and once after he was arrested at John Wayne Airport in Orange County after authorities found a collapsible baton in his bag.
He also represented Rihanna in the 2009 criminal case against her then-boyfriend Chris Brown.
3. There Was No 911 Call About an Injury or Near-Drowning at the Home
TMZ reports both L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. and the L.A. County Fire Dept saying they never received any call relating to Shaw or his nephew. The party had been taking place in Shaw’s hometown of Palmdale, California.
If Shaw’s story was false, it seems like there are two possibilities here, either USC knew the story was false and it was part of some coverup or they believed the story and ran with it without checking any of it out first.
4. Coach Steve Sarkisian Said USC Was Getting Calls Contradicting Shaw’s Story
Shaw’s coach, Steve Sarkisian, had earlier said that USC had gotten numerous calls telling them that Shaw was lying. Speaking to the media on August 26, Sarkisian said, “He came to us with what had occurred Saturday night. I have no reason, no history, to not believe Josh and his story with what has occurred.” Just 24 hours previously, Sarkisian had said:
That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside. But that’s the kind of person he is. It is unfortunate that he’ll be sidelined for a while and we will miss his leadership and play, but I know he’ll be working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible.
ESPN reports that Shaw would not be making any media appearances until the issue was resolved. The network also states that Shaw suffered a pair of sprained ankles. Steve Sarkisian said: “I will say the X-rays and MRIs we have taken on him have come back negative. So far we don’t see anything structurally wrong with him but he is very sore.”
5. Shaw’s Sister Told Reporters That His Verion of the Story Is True
Shaw’s older sister Asia told reporters Tuesday that her brother’s version of the story is true.
Asia Shaw talked to reporters on the steps of her parents’ home in Palmdale, California, where Josh Shaw claimed to have saved his nephew.
Asia Shaw told USA Today her brother Justin was supposed to be watching her son Carter, but had turned away when Carter fell into a pool.
Josh Shaw then “saw the incident and reacted,” she told reporters.
Asked about the reports Tuesday that Josh Shaw may have been involved in a burglary, Asia Shaw responded: “I won’t get involved in that. Those are all speculations,” according to USA Today.