Suspended Southern Cal defensive back Josh Shaw, who fabricated a lie in August about why he leaped from a balcony and badly sprained both his ankles, hasn't played a down for the Trojans this year, and might not before the season is done. But with hopes that his football career isn't over, the NFL draft prospect is hoping for an invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl, and told the full story of the lie that derailed his college career to the Los Angeles Times.
"I've seen the dark side, I've hit the bottom, I've learned," Shaw said.
According to Shaw, a heated argument with longtime girlfriend Angela Chilton resulted in authorities being called by neighbors. Although both Shaw and Chilton have said the argument never became physical, Shaw leaped from a third-story balcony to avoid police, in flip-flops, suffering two high ankle sprains that, immediately after impact, he believed to be broken legs. Embarrassed as a Trojans co-captain to have injured himself so severely under such circumstances, just a week before the season was to begin, Shaw told USC coaches he jumped from a balcony to save his nephew from drowning in a pool at a party. And though neither authorities nor USC needed much time to raise doubts about the story, Shaw insisted the lie was true for three long days -- even after he was confronted about the holes in the story.
"(Coach Steve Sarkisian) says, 'I'm going to take your word for it.' I regret it greatly ... to lie to my head coach, who I greatly respect, that's tough," Shaw told the Times.
Shaw said he asked USC not to disclose how the injury happened so that the lie would not become public knowledge, but USC would not agree to do so. Shaw said he knew he had lost control of the lie when he saw the tale had made national news.
"I saw it on TV and it was like, boom, oh my gosh, wow. It's not true, what do I do? I didn't know what to do. ... So many thoughts went through my head," Shaw said. "I wish my thought was, 'Tell them now, it's not true!'"
As USC's top defensive back, Shaw's senior season was set to be something of a showcase for NFL scouts. He intercepted four passes and broke up seven others as a junior, and has experience at both cornerback and safety. But without playing his senior year and with his character in question, his path to the NFL is now a more difficult one.
He's now told the full story once, publicly anyway. If he's invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in February, he can expect to be asked to tell it again and again.