USC defensive back Josh Shaw was the inspirational story of the moment when the school claimed back in August that he'd sprained both ankles jumping off a balcony to save his drowning 7-year-old nephew. Within a few days it had become clear that everything about the story was fake, except for the sprained ankles. It was reported that Shaw had gotten into a noisy argument with his girlfriend and leaped off a balcony when the cops arrived. But why such an elaborate lie? Today, Shaw opened up to the Los Angeles Times's Bill Plaschke and explained the thought process.
Shaw said he did indeed get into an argument that night with his girlfriend, Angela Chilton, but both of them deny that it turned physical. Chilton left the apartment and disappeared, according to Shaw.
From the Los Angeles Times:
"We just got into an argument just like every couple does," Shaw said. "Was it loud? Yes. Was it overly loud? I don't think so."
Shaw remained in the apartment until he heard noise below his balcony. He walked outside to see police cars pulling up on the street. Shaw and Chilton adamantly deny the argument ever became physical — "I would never, ever hit a woman," Shaw said — but he worried about appearances.
"We were not on good terms when she left, I thought she had somebody call authorities. I was thinking the worst," he said. "If she did say anything, I'm a black man with dreadlocks, and with everything going on in the country at the time, all that stuff in St. Louis [Ferguson, Mo.] … in my mind, I'm going to leap from the balcony so authorities did not see me."
At the time, Shaw, who was wearing flip-flops, thought he had actually broken both his legs from the leap. The Trojans player said the reason he made up the nephew excuse was because he couldn't think of a good way to explain two broken legs to his coaches. He said if he'd known that he'd only sprained his ankles, he would have been more honest.
It's too late for that, however. From what Shaw told Plaschke, he had multiple opportunities—in conversations with USC's sports information director; with other officials; with coach Steve Sarkisian, who asked point-blank if his story was accurate—to come clean. But he didn't. And Shaw said he regrets the lie, of course.
Shaw also said he and Chilton are still together.