Mark Wahlberg had been in trouble 20–25 times with the Boston Police Department in his youth. By age 13, Wahlberg had developed an addiction to cocaine and other substances. At fifteen, he harassed a group of black school children on a field trip by throwing rocks and shouting racial epithets. At 16, Wahlberg approached a middle-aged Vietnamese man on the street and, using a large wooden stick, knocked him unconscious. He also attacked another Vietnamese man, leaving him permanently blind in one eye.
For these crimes, Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to assault, and was sentenced to two years in state prison at Boston’s Deer Island House of Correction, of which he served 45 days. In another incident, the 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack. Commenting in 2006 on his past crimes, Wahlberg has stated: “I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes.” He said the right thing to do would be to try to find the blinded man and make amends, and admitted he has not done so, but added that he was no longer burdened by guilt: “You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn’t until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don’t have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning.”
After going to prison for assault, he decided to improve his behavior. According to Wahlberg, “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. 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. First of all, I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow.” Wahlberg first relied on the guidance of his parish priest to turn his back on crime. He told his street gang that he was leaving them and had “some serious fights” with them over it. The actor commented in 2009: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I’ve done bad things, but I never blamed my upbringing for that. I never behaved like a victim so that I would have a convenient reason for victimizing others. Everything I did wrong was my own fault. I was taught the difference between right and wrong at an early age. I take full responsibility.