Mark Wahlberg Got in Trouble With the Law Before He Was a Famous Actor

Mark Wahlberg is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but his pre-fame life featured an attempted murder charge that was quickly dropped.


Jun. 8 2020, Updated 11:21 a.m. ET

Mark Wahlberg has been a star in Hollywood for decades, but he wasn't born famous. In his pre-acting days, Mark was just the youngest of nine kids, all of whom shared one three-bedroom apartment. He was also a high school dropout who had a large number of run-ins with the law before he found a way out of Boston, where he was born and raised. 

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Mark Wahlberg was in a gang before starting Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

After leaving high school at the age of 14, Mark joined a gang. During his years with the gang, he was arrested on multiple occasions for dealing drugs and other offenses. The actor also claims that he was addicted to cocaine during this period of his life. Things came to a head when Mark was just 16, and he attacked two Vietnamese men without any sort of provocation. 

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He attacked the first man with a stick and punched the second, who was blinded in the altercation. Following the attacks, Mark was arrested and initially charged with attempted murder. Later, his charge was reduced to criminal contempt, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Mark ultimately pleaded guilty to the charge. 

Did Mark Wahlberg spend time in prison?

After he pleaded guilty, Mark was sentenced to two years at the Deer Island House of Correction, but he only wound up serving 45 days of that sentence. Ultimately, the small amount of time that Mark did spend behind bars convinced him that he should try to turn his life around. In an interview with Men's Health, he explained that after he arrived in prison, he realized it wasn't what he wanted his life to be. 

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"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," he explained. 

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Mark was able to turn things around with help from his older brother.

Mark's brother Donnie had already found success as a member of New Kids on the Block. Mark was initially in the group, but quit before they became famous. After Mark got out of prison, he worked as a bricklayer as Donnie helped him form Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. He also helped Mark get his first record contract, and the Funky Bunch released their debut album in 1991. 

The album was hugely successful, and went platinum off of the success of "Good Vibrations." It was the start of Mark's rise to prominence, and the first step on his path to becoming an A-list Hollywood star. 

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