On Aug. 23, Shaw suffered two high ankle sprains when he jumped from the balcony of his third-story apartment after an argument with his girlfriend, but he lied and said he was hurt trying to save his drowning nephew. The story of bravery spread rapidly but was scrutinized just as quickly.
"I never wanted this deal to go viral at all, it was not my intention at all," Shaw told the Times. "I thought coaches would say OK and we'd just deal with it."
Shaw had argued with girlfriend Angela Chilton, and a neighbor called the police. He fled by jumping from the balcony when he saw the police. Both maintain that the argument -- while loud -- never turned physical.
"We were not on good terms when she left, I thought she had somebody call authorities," Shaw said. "I was thinking the worst. 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, Missouri] ... in my mind, I'm going to leap from the balcony so authorities did not see me."
He made up the story to USC officials because he was afraid they would be upset at the real reason, but he never imagined it would spread as quickly and widely as it did.
Knowing there would be questions about why the Trojans' team captain was out with two ankle injuries, USC sports information director Tim Tessalone interviewed Shaw and gave him multiple chances to change his story. But Shaw didn't stray, and the school released his story on its website.
"We have our starting cornerback being carted around campus in a wheelchair, people would be seeing it," Tessalone told the L.A. Times in the same article. "We knew it was a feel-good story, but we also knew it was a news story."
Three days later, Shaw admitted to lying and was suspended indefinitely.
"It gets harder and harder to keep up with lie after lie after lie ... the timeline wasn't right ... everything was off ... but I was still lying," Shaw said. "I thought I was in way too deep."
USC coach Steve Sarkisian told reporters during his Sunday night conference call that he was "hopeful" Shaw will play this season.
"I didn't get a chance to read it, quite honestly," Sarkisian said. "I've got people I count on to read it and give me a synopsis of it. It sounds relatively accurate. We'll see where it goes from here. There's really nothing new from me right now. It hasn't reached my desk, it hasn't reached Pat [Haden]'s desk, so we'll see where it goes from here."
The coach said a decision on Shaw's return was out of his hands.
"I can't really answer it because I don't know yet," Sarkisian said when asked whether Shaw would return to the team. "If it ever got to my desk, I would make a decision. Until that happens, we'll just be here to support Josh as best we can in every aspect that we can up until now, and then if it gets to that point, we'll make a decision."
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi contributed to this report.