USC football player Josh Shaw has been suspended indefinitely from the team after admitting he made up a story about spraining his ankles while trying to save his nephew from drowning.
The fifth-year senior had been praised as a hero after telling the school he jumped from a second-story apartment Saturday to rescue his 7-year-old nephew.
Skepticism quickly emerged, however, with the school receiving phone calls questioning Shaw’s account.
Shaw came clean Wednesday, releasing a statement through his attorney.
“I injured myself in a fall. I made up a story about this fall that was untrue,” he said in the statement. “I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to USC.”
The statement offers no detail on the circumstances surrounding his fall.
Los Angeles police also released a statement, saying Shaw was mentioned but not named a suspect in a break-in at an apartment building the same night he claimed to be rescuing his nephew.
While his attorney says nothing was criminal, the question remains: Why did Shaw make up such an intricate lie?
“It was so out-of-character for him,” ESPN’s Shelley Smith said. “He was the kid who always did everything right.”
A team captain, the cornerback was kind of player his teammates looked to for leadership. He would have been a key starter for the Trojans.
Now, his collegiate football career could be finished.
"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’s teammates must figure out how to replace a player who willingly filled any role for the USC defense over the past two years.
"We were pretty shocked," defensive lineman Leonard Williams said Wednesday. "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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.