Josh Shaw saves nephew, sidelines himself

It's no surprise that Josh Shaw wouldn't think twice before jumping to save his nephew and risking himself and his football well-being. The senior leader is now going to have to fight his way back his final season.

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It's what you would expect of Josh Shaw.

Even after nursing a stress fracture in his ankle through spring and early summer, when the moment came Saturday evening, the senior USC captain came up like he always does. He was at a family get-together in Palmdale at his cousin's place when he saw his 7-year-old nephew, who can't swim, struggling in the pool with no one around.

With no thought to his own well-being, Josh jumped off a second-floor balcony, landing on the concrete below, badly spraining both his ankles. But he managed to get to the pool, get his nephew out and then pull himself out.

Here's how the official blog described it: "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."

Shaw's nephew was "traumatized" but safe while Shaw was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a pair of high ankle sprains. And now he'll miss this week's game and his immediate playing future is uncertain.

"I would do it again for whatever kid it was, it did not have to be my nephew," Shaw told today. "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."

Head coach Steve Sarkisian said it the way everyone who knows Josh saw it: "That was a heroic act by Josh, putting his personal safety aside. But that's the kind of person he is. It is unfortunate that he'll be sidelined for a while and we will miss his leadership and play, but I know he'll be working hard to get back on the field as soon as possible."

It's hard not to recall that this is the same Josh Shaw who returned from Florida to help out with the family landscaping business when his grandfather got sick.

And the Josh Shaw who would show up in dress clothes and tie, coming straight from his summer internship to Cromwell Field, to help out the younger guys at USC's summer workouts in June and July.

And the Josh Shaw who gave a stirring address on what USC and playing football and his academic life has meant to him at the Athletes Commencement in May.

It doesn't seem right, of course, the way bad things happen to good people. But as good people like Josh Shaw do, he'll make this work for him and the team he was named to captain Saturday.

Someone or several someones will have to step up in his absence. And Josh will help them as they do. And more young players will be ready to play as the season moves on. And this USC team could be better in the long run if the players getting the chance follow the example of Josh Shaw.

It's happened before, if you'll recall, although not with anything like these dramatic circumstances. But in that first Orange Bowl against Iowa, we remember Troy Polamalu having a bad reaction to a pregame pain-killing shot and unable to play in a game that meant so much to him.

And meant so much for the USC team he'd led into that game. The players who respected him so much stepped in for Troy and made it happen -- for him and for USC. As we can only hope it plays out here this year.

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