Whether you know him as frontman Marky Mark from his earlier rapper days with the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, or for his Academy Award nominations for films like Lone Survivor, Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg has been a household name for decades.
The American actor, producer, business mogul and former rapper hasn’t always seen the success that the big screen portrays today.
Growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, Mark was the youngest of nine children. He got sucked into drugs, fighting and gang violence at a very young age. A cocaine addict at only 13, Wahlberg had a grim-looking future.
At 17, he was charged with attempted murder, after attacking two separate Vietnamese men he’d never met. Mark was sentenced to two years in Suffolk County Deer Island House of Correction, but was released after only 45 days. The actor still has a felony record as a result.
It took going to prison for Mark to realize that he desperately needed to make a change.
“As soon as I began that life of crime, there was always a voice in my head telling me I was going to end up in jail,” he explains. “Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I’d always wanted to be like. Now I’d earned my stripes and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I’d ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back. I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow.”
He made the decision that in order to make a change, he’d have to turn his attention toward his faith.
“I had to make the choice personally, and then I had to focus on my faith. And my faith has really allowed me to overcome a lot of things. And hard work. You know, nothing comes easy especially when you’ve got your back against the wall and you’ve got a lot going against you. But I wanted to prove to people through my actions, and not my words, that I was going to change.”
Once Mark made the decision to chase after God, everything changed. He traded the life he’d been living—one full of crime, drugs and violence—for a life full of God, hard work and determination.
Of course he found fame and fortune in becoming one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories, but for Mark Wahlberg, God has always remained the primary focus in his life.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The husband and father of four says that he prays every day to be a good servant, father and husband. “I ask for the ability to raise my kids, to teach and protect them, and to be disciplined and firm and loving and nurturing. It can be a fine line, so I ask God for the strength to not lose my patience with my children.”
He reminisces on what could have been, saying, “A lot of people get in trouble, go to jail and find God, and the minute they don’t need God anymore, they’re gone.”
Mark believes anything that’s good in his life is because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
Isn’t it an amazing testimony to see how God can take the most unlikely people—a once 13-year-old drug addict—and change their hearts for His glory? No matter what circumstances we face, or what hole we find ourselves stuck in, God has a plan for each of His children, and the journey is well worth it.
You can check out Mark Wahlberg in his newest blockbuster Patriot’s Day in theaters January 13. Hear more about his faith journey in the CNN interview below.