Mobile police spokesman Cpl. Christopher Levy said the victim, 40, went outside his home Saturday and spoke to the boys, who were playing basketball in the street, the Mobile Press-Register reported Monday. The boys left but soon after a large group of people, including adults and children, went to the man's house and confronted him, Levy said.
Matthew Owens, hospitalized in critical condition, was beaten so brutally that he hasn't been able to identify or describe his assailants, Levy said.
No arrests had been made. The race of the victim, the youths and the other adults wasn't provided in several media accounts.
"The victim had approached the kids that were playing basketball in the street and fussed at them about playing basketball," Levy said. "After they left, what is believed to be a number of adults came back and assaulted our victim with pipes, paint cans and some chairs."
Levy said police still were trying to determine what happened Saturday, WKRG-TV, Mobile, reported.
Levy said the confrontation was "one of those situations where there was a ton of people there, but for some reason, not a lot of details were given to investigators that night. So we're hoping somebody knows what happened. We're hoping someone will come forward and give us that information."
WKRG also reported the victim's sister said she heard one person say "now that's justice for Trayvon" Martin, the unarmed black teen shot and killed in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.
WPMI-TV, Mobile, said Owens' friends and family said tension had been building before the attack, mainly over basketball being played on the residential street. They said there had been other confrontations and racially charged comments by several people have made the situation more volatile.