HONOLULU – It started with a generous gesture by David Beckham, who handed over his game-used soccer jersey to two young boys after a game at Aloha Stadium.
Now a squabble over the sweaty souvenir has devolved into a nasty fight with threats of legal action that has left the general manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team in "utter disbelief."
The youngsters from Honolulu used to be close friends and teammates on a soccer team.
Then a shirtless Beckham approached the boys Feb. 20, after the Galaxy's exhibition loss to Japan's Gamba Osaka in the Pan-Pacific Championship, and reached over a sign with his right hand and gave away his white jersey.
Eric and Yoshika Kerr said it was their 10-year-old son that held a sign all game and eventually lured Beckham over. The jersey, they say, was intended for their son because the soccer star pointed to him.
Wilfred and Yoshika Ho said their 9-year-old son had possession first and that a police officer stepped in during a scrum for the jersey and resolved the issue by handing it to their son.
"My son got the shirt, their kid started trying to pry it away," said Wilfred Ho, who considers a front-page photo in Thursday's edition of The Honolulu Advertiser proof.
The photo shows Ho's son in an emotional tug-of-war with two other youngsters. The Kerr boy is standing behind Ho's son, holding a sign, not involved in the tussle.
The Kerrs told the Advertiser they never wanted sole possession of the jersey but wanted to share. They even suggested a joint-custody deal where they would rotate possession.
"(Beckham) pointed out that he wanted our son to have it. How do you explain this to a 10-year-old?" Eric Kerr said. "It's been really hard on him. Why not let the kids share? He's such a big star and it's one heck of an experience for the boys. We just want (the Hos) to keep their end of the bargain."
Wilfred Ho said "we tried to clarify we were the owner and they proceeded to get upset so we never let them borrow it."
On April 10, the Hos received a letter from the Kerrs' attorney, demanding the return of the Beckham jersey or possible legal action. The Hos' attorney responded in a letter last week, stating that the Hos are the rightful owners.
The Kerrs' attorney, Max Hannemann, declined comment Thursday. Messages left for the Hos' attorney, Thomas Otake, were not returned.
Alexi Lalas, the Galaxy's general manager, told the Advertiser that Beckham and the team never intended for the situation to happen.
"My suggestion is that the judge get a pair of scissors, cut the thing in half and give half to each," he said.