On Wednesday night, Josh Shaw found himself in a position you never want to be in unless you've won a major award, made a game-winning touchdown or walked on the moon. The University of Southern California defensive back was the No. 1 trending topic in America for much of the evening, which almost always spells doom.
Shaw earned this distinction by going from hero to pariah in a span of 48 hours after he admitted lying about jumping off a two story balcony to save his drowning nephew in a swimming pool.
The initial story began to circulate Monday after USC posted Shaw's account on its website. From there, it took off and almost every media outlet ran with the tale.
Shaw was being called a hero and role model for today's youth. The fact that a man with a possible career in the NFL would selfishly put himself in danger in order to save a little kid was destined to become a movie of the week. Trips to visit President Barack Obama, Oprah and Jimmy Kimmel were undoubtedly in his future.
However, as with many things, Shaw's story was too good to be true. USC was the first to back away after receiving calls from the public that Shaw may not have been telling the truth. Then on Wednesday, he came forward and said it was a complete lie.
"I made up a story about this fall that was untrue," Shaw said in a statement. "I was wrong to not tell the truth. I apologize to U.S.C. for this action on my part. My U.S.C. coaches, the U.S.C. athletic department, and especially Coach Sarkisian have all been supportive of me during my college career, and for that, I am very grateful."
Shaw's lawyer told the New York Times his client was injured Saturday night when he fell from a third-floor balcony at an apartment building in downtown Los Angeles. He didn't divulge how it happened or why.
USC coach Steve Sarkisian was clearly let down by the 22-year old Shaw, who has been suspended from the team.
"We are extremely disappointed in Josh," Sarkisian said in a statement. "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 is not out of the woods yet. According to multiple reports, a police report names a "Josh Shaw" in connection to a possible break-in at an apartment just a few miles from USC's campus at some point between 10 and 11 p.m. Saturday. That's the same time USC's Shaw was falling from the third-story balcony.
"No one has been arrested or named as a suspect," a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the Orange County Register. "Mr. Shaw’s name was listed in the report as the victim's boyfriend only. This is an ongoing investigation."
Regardless of what comes from it, Shaw has already earned a spot on the list of great lies ever told by sports figures. It's a list that included Bobby Petrino, Pete Rose ("I never bet on baseball"), Nick Saban ("I'm not going to be the Alabama coach."), Rosie Ruiz (1980 Boston Marathon), Rafael Palmeiro ("I have never used steroids, period.") and Manti Te'o (fake girlfriend).
Once again, it's another place Shaw probably didn't want to see his name.