On a night when the national social media conversation centered on the Emmy Awards, USC cornerback Josh Shaw trended as the top dramatic hero.
The surge started Monday at 3:34 p.m., when USC's Athletic Department tweeted: “USC senior CB Josh Shaw is out indefinitely after injuring himself rescuing his nephew from drowning,” including a link to the athletic department’s blog post.
Josh Shaw -- a hero.
The narrative took off.
Two hours later, Shaw's name was trending nationally on Twitter next to Hollywood icon Julia Roberts. "Incredible story!" "A real life hero!" and "A true leader!" read some tweets.
"What a selfless act by my friend Josh Shaw; Praying for miraculous healing! #FightOn," tweeted New York Giants linebacker Devon Kennard, Shaw's former USC teammate.
But Tuesday morning, Shaw was suddenly the subject of a social-media divide. USC Coach Steve Sarkisian said the school was vetting Shaw's story, setting off a daylong stream of rumor and commentary on Twitter.
Some demonized Shaw -- "From hero to zero," some tweets read. A few supported him, "Josh Shaw is a hero!"
The hero narrative faded, but plenty on social media continued to express a hope that Shaw's story would prove to be true.
Others, once praising Shaw, were deleted, including tweets from Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter and current as well as former teammates Zach Banner and Dion Bailey, respectively.
The churn was expected to begin again Wednesday morning after Sarkisian addressed the media after practice.
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