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USA TODAY

Southern California football coach Steve Sarkisian said Tuesday that he has received several calls questioning the validity of cornerback Josh Shaw's story describing how he suffered two high ankle sprains last weekend. The school is vetting the tale.

Shaw told USC's athletics website that he injured himself Saturday after jumping from a second-floor apartment balcony to the concrete below to rescue his 7-year-old nephew, who "cannot swim" and was in a pool "in distress without help nearby." Shaw said his nephew was traumatized by the experience.

Now, USC is investigating the authenticity of the story.

"I'm going to refrain from talking about the situation itself," Sarkisian said Tuesday during the Pac-12 coaches teleconference. "I will say that Josh had never given us any indication not to believe his story. He's been a kid of very high character for us, a team leader, elected team captain. I had no reason not to believe him.

"Now, we did receive some calls that question the validity of his story. ... We're doing our due diligence on that as we speak."

A woman who identified herself as Shaw's older sister and the mother of the 7-year-old boy the USC football player allegedly saved from drowning called reports that Shaw was actually injured during a burglary "speculation."

"I won't get involved in that," said the woman, who identified herself as Asia Shaw and spoke in front of Shaw's parents' home in Palmdale, Calif. "Those are all speculations."

Sara Faden, public information officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, said there was a burglary that occurred at 11 p.m. Saturday at the residence of a woman who identified herself as Josh Shaw's girlfriend. Faden said witnesses described the suspect as "male, black, with dreadlocks." "(But) the suspect is not Shaw. It happens to be a mutually matching description. No one pointed a finger at him as a suspect."

Asia Shaw said she was not at the family event during which Josh Shaw allegedly jumped from a balcony when he saw his nephew, Carter, fall into the pool. The boy cannot swim, Asia Shaw said.

She said the child was in the care of another brother, Justin. Though she said she was not at the event, she offered details of what allegedly took place.

"The one who was supposed to be watching him turned away for a second," she said. "And Josh, who is on the balcony, saw the incident and reacted."

She said the police were not called because there was no respiratory impairment.

Deputy Jason Ames of the Palmdale Sheriff Station said there was no record of a call out regarding Shaw.

"Josh is adamant with what occurred, and we're going to continue to vet some of the stories that have come across our desk or our phones and see what we have and go from there," Sarkisian told local news media earlier Tuesday.

Sarkisian said he and other athletics officials need more time to vet the situation. Shaw, a senior, was chosen a team captain Saturday night.

"It's important to know your players," Sarkisian said. "Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us. He's given me no reason to not believe what he told us occurred. But you need to know."

Josh Peter reported from Palmdale, Calif.

August 27, 2014
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