Mark Wahlberg has come a long way. Not only from Boston to Beverly Hills, or tow truck driver to leading man; the youngest of eight (not including three half-siblings) started out as a hoodlum.

Fond of stealing cars as a teen, the future Marky Mark forwent grand theft auto one fine spring day to get the five-finger discount on some beer. In the process, he punched one man in the eye and hit another in the head with a stick.

Subsequently, 17-year-old Mark was charged with felony assault. He was sentenced to two years in prison. That was 1988.

Wahlberg spent 45 days in the joint.

Fast forward to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s first record in 1991, thanks to famous brother Donny’s success with New Kids on the Block. On tour, according to Wahlberg, he didn’t exactly treat enthusiastic female fans gentlemanly. A second record followed in ’92, and music and modeling led to an acting opportunity in the 1993 film The Substitute.

Cue Renaissance Man in 94, The Basketball Diaries the following year, and a breakout role in 1996’s Fear.

Wahlberg’s star continued to brighten. But more impressive than his career trajectory was an upward movement of a different sort, as reported by the Catholic Herald in 2010:

“Being a Catholic is the most important aspect of my life. The first thing I do when I start my day is, I get down on my hands and knees and give thanks to God. Whenever I go outside of my house, the first thing I do is stop at the church. The kids will be mad with me. ‘Daddy! It takes too long!’ I’m saying: ‘It’s only 10 minutes and this is something I really need to do.’ Because I do. If I can start my day out by saying my prayers and getting myself focused, then I know I’m doing the right thing. That 10 minutes helps me in every way throughout the day.”

Ultimately, the father of four’s prison experience helped scare him straight:

“There’s nothing scarier than being 16 years old, hearing the jail house door close behind you, and knowing that you’re not going to leave. I’d brought it on myself. A lot of bad things happened to me when I was young, and I did a lot of bad things too. I was too cool for school, I’d made my mistakes and I was paying for them. I’d lost sight of my religion. My parents were Catholic but not devoutly so, and once I’d started venturing out on to the street that wasn’t important to me at all. But, of course, once you get into trouble, you start praying! ‘Oh, my God, just get me out of here, and I swear I’ll never do it again!’ Well, I did get out of jail, and I did make sure I never went back there. The recidivism rate for people going back for jail sentences is through the roof, but not me. I did not want to be another statistic. I wanted to live my life instead.”

Faith in God was the key to Walhberg’s life improvement:

“Once I focused on my faith wonderful things started happening for me. And I don’t mean professionally – that’s not what it’s about. These days, I’ll be in church and people will come up to me and say: ‘Do you mind if I sit and pray with you?’ And they’ll start praying and it’ll turn out they’re praying for their new movie to be a success or whatever, and I’m like, this is not what I come here for. For me to sit down and ask for material things is ridiculous. It’s a much bigger picture than that. I want to serve God and to be a good human being and to make up for the mistakes I made and the pain I put people through. That’s what I’m praying for, and I recommend it to anybody.”

Mark’s career ain’t doing too badly — the actor, producer, and businessman is worth $225 million.

Still today, regardless of fame or fortune, the entertainer — who says he wants to be a role model — begins his very early daily routine as follows:

2:30am wake up
2:45am prayer time
3:15am breakfast

More than I wish were true, I write a lot about people in Hollywood who have their heads in the clouds, or in other places that heads should never go. It’s refreshing to see someone in Tinseltown who believes in something other than themself. Despite our culture’s incessant talk of self-confidence and following one’s own truth, the truth is, there’s something greater out there. Mark Wahlberg seems to have found it — and in doing so, found true success.

 

Thank you for reading! What do you think about Mark and his journey? Sound off in the Comments section below.

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