I wasn’t the only one who found the story beyond belief
It’s too bad my mom doesn’t work in the sports office at USC. She could have saved them all a lot of embarrassment and taught a young man a lesson.
Sometime in the hours after attending a banquet in which he was named a captain for his football program at Southern Cal, Josh Shaw visited his girlfriend at her Palmdale, Cal. Apartment, at least an hour from the banquet location depending on Saturday night traffic.
While there, Shaw tried to “shimmy” down the outside of the building from her third floor apartment. During that attempt to become Spiderman, Shaw took a tumble. When he landed, both of his ankles were injured.
As a football player approaching his first game of the 2014 season and a newly named captain of his team, Shaw decided that since he couldn’t be Spiderman, he better become a superhero in another way so he came up with a story that was too good to be true.
He didn’t sneak away from his girlfriend’s room. Instead, Shaw leapt from a second floor balcony to save his drowning nephew. The story posted on the USC athletics website is awesome.
“Shaw looked on from a second floor balcony to the pool below and saw his 7-year-old nephew, who cannot swim, in distress without help nearby. Shaw instinctively leaped off the balcony, landing painfully on the concrete below,” the story says. “He was able to crawl into the pool and ushered his nephew to safety. Despite the intense pain in his legs, he was then able to grab the ladder and lift himself out of the pool with his upper body.”
Oh my. That’s something.
When I read the story the first time, my radar was pining on several facts in the story. First, was he the only one there who could swim? Why couldn’t one of his family members on the ground floor save the seven year old? Was there no one in the pool that Shaw could have alerted to the struggling seven year old?
Next, the fact that that pool must be pretty darn close to the wall if he jumped off the balcony and even made it to the water with two badly injured ankles. Even for a Man of Troy such as Shaw, that is a bit of a remarkable crawl.
Then he saved the nephew without the use of his legs and pulled himself out of the pool using only his upper body. How heroic.
But Shaw’s quotes were of such “made for press release” that I was sure that he had at least exaggerated his story.
"I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew," Shaw said in that first story. "My ankles really hurt, but I am lucky to be surrounded by the best trainers and doctors in the world. I am taking my rehab one day at a time, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible."
He wasn’t scared and reacted to save his nephew. He was a hero, by God. And if he has to do it again for any seven-year old, he will.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who found the story beyond belief.
It wasn’t long before coaches and fans who pushed this story out and celebrated Super Ankle Man were walking the story back. They would have jogged the story back, but their ankles hurt too much to jog.
Shaw finally admitted that he made the whole thing up. He is very sorry and will never create another fairy tale to defend himself again.
Currently, he is suspended from the team. But he is also hurt and I bet his suspension and recovery run concurrently.
After Mantei Teo’s imaginary girlfriend from a couple of years ago, I can’t believe a major university was so easily taken in by a story like this.
That is where my mom would be helpful.
I remember when I was 12. It was a long time ago but I remember it like it was yesterday.
My parents went to one of my brother’s baseball games and I got to stay home. While I was home, I decided I wanted to go to a friend’s house to play some baseball and watch movies.
I wasn’t allowed to leave. So I came up with a story. I didn’t become a super hero, but it was a tall tale.
You see, two bikers, I was pretty sure they were Hell’s Angels, came into our yard. I grabbed my bat and took off to Ronnie’s. Luckily, as a fat little 12-year old, I was able to escape the Hell’s Angels who were so amazed by my burst of speed and menacing baseball bat I was carrying, that they left me alone and also did no harm to the house.
I was safe and sound at Ronnie’s when they found me after the game.
As they drove me home, I told the story. My brother tried to point out how stupid it sounded but mom just let me go. She asked questions and I had to go deeper and deeper into the story where it was not well-developed.
She let me sleep on it and asked about it again the next morning. Like Shaw, the pressure was too much and I broke.
Lying isn’t easy. If you are good at it, that isn’t good.
Fortunately, most people aren’t.
I hope kids everywhere learn a lesson from Shaw and figure out that the punishment for telling the truth is lighter and less embarrassing than getting caught in a lie.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org