Inside Mark Wahlberg's transformation: From gang life to acting and minting millions via prayer app Hallow

Inside Mark Wahlberg's transformation: From gang life to acting and minting millions via prayer app Hallow
Mark Wahlberg has had a massive transformation in his life (Barry King/WireImage, TODAY/YouTube)

Inside Mark Wahlberg's incredible journey from gangster to reformed businessman

Mark Wahlberg attends Steven Tyler's Second Annual GRAMMY Awards Viewing Party to benefit Janie's Fund presented by Live Nation at Raleigh Studios on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. at Raleigh Studios on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Mark Wahlberg had a remarkable transformation from his tough childhood to building a faith-based life (Getty Images)

Mark Wahlberg sitting in a church pew praying was one of the most striking Super Bowl ads of this year. When worship had to move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic app Hallow—which Mark co-owns—was one of many that popped up on the market and gained immediate traction. Let us explore the astonishing transformation story of how a drug addict, bully, and former prisoner transformed from being Hollywood's toughest boy to one of its most pious celebrities.

1. Mark Wahlberg's troubled childhood was a nightmare

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11: American singer and actor Mark Wahlberg attends the 12th Annual Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) Convention and Expo on July 11, 1993 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)
Mark Wahlberg's troubled childhood affected him (Ron Davis/Getty Images)

Mark was the youngest of nine children born to Irish Catholic parents on June 5, 1971, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He claimed to be "always in trouble" with the cops as a 5 ft 2 in (157 cm), 120 lbs (54 kg) youth who had been left largely on his own, as per Daily Mail. According to the actor, as his mother was a bank clerk and his father was a bus driver, the family struggled to make ends meet. In an interview with The Guardian, Mark also talked about how his elder brothers bullied him and how he saw violence every time he left the house.

2. Mark Wahlberg was found guilty of racially motivated attacks

Mark Wahlberg was found guilty of racist hate crimes twice (Mark Wahlberg/Facebook)
Mark Wahlberg was found guilty of racially motivated hate crimes (Mark Wahlberg/Facebook)

Mark has been in the public eye since his late adolescent years. He left high school early because of legal issues and addiction to drugs, particularly cocaine. In 1986, when Mark was 15, he and three others went after some Black children, throwing rocks at them and screaming, "Kill the [N-word]," until an ambulance driver stopped them. The very following day, he gathered other White males to join him in harassing another group of Black children by hurling rocks and abusing them with racial slurs. After he was found guilty of violating the civil rights of the victims, Mark was issued an injunction threatening him with jail time in case he committed a similar offense. About two years later, he was accused of spewing racial slurs and violently attacking two Vietnamese-American men while under the influence of drugs. Mark entered a guilty plea to felony assault after being charged with attempted murder. Although he was given a three-month prison sentence, Mark only served 45 days. Mark later noted that a local parish priest helped him leave the gang world. 

3. Mark Wahlberg fashioned himself as rapper 'Marky Mark' for a fresh beginning 

American model, rapper and later actor Mark Wahlberg, aka Marky Mark, poses shirtless, circa 1991. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)
Mark Wahlberg posed for well-known Calvin Klein advertisements (Tim Roney/Getty Images)

Mark's older brother and then-member of the popular band New Kids on the Block, Donnie, helped him start a music career following his release from prison. The 'Ted' actor, along with The Funky Bunch, positioned himself as rapper "Marky Mark." His music videos frequently showcased his well-sculpted body, which he exhibited in a series of well-known Calvin Klein advertisements from 1992, featuring Kate Moss. He released an autobiographical picture book that year with the opening line, "I wanna dedicate this book to my d**k."

4. 'Boogie Nights' catapulted Mark Wahlberg into Hollywood success

(Boogie Nights/Facebook)
Mark Wahlberg received his breakout role in the 1997 film 'Boogie Nights' (Boogie Nights/Facebook)

Mark's primary selling point—rather than his intelligence—remained his physique as he entered the acting world, making his feature debut in the 1993 film 'The Substitute.' In 1997, he was already well-known, though not for the reasons he desired. He was best recognized at that point in his career as The Funky Bunch's leader, Marky Mark, and as a Calvin Klein underwear model. Mark had to wait an additional four years since 1993 for his breakout role in 'Boogie Nights', starring as Dirk Diggler.

5. Mark Wahlberg was the highest-paid actor of 2017 due to a whopping salary of $68 million

(The Departed/Facebook)
Mark Wahlberg's role in the 2006 criminal drama 'The Departed' earned him an Oscar nomination (The Departed/Facebook)

Despite his formidable background, Mark quickly won over skeptics. His part in Martin Scorsese's 2006 criminal drama 'The Departed' earned him an Oscar nomination. He also served as executive producer for six years on the HBO series 'Entourage', which was partially inspired by his personal experiences in Hollywood. As an actor, Mark is most recognized for his roles in action films like the 'Transformers' series, comedies like 'Ted', and fusion films like 'The Other Guys'. Notably, Mark became the highest-paid actor in the world in 2017, with a salary of $68 million.

6. Mark Wahlberg has been associated with various business ventures

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 23: Mark Wahlberg attends the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix's
Mark Wahlberg plans to launch his own movie studio, 'Hollywood 2.0' (Getty Images)

Mark also had his fingers in several other lucrative pieties. Alongside two brothers, he co-owns the burger business 'Wahlburgers', which has over 90 locations worldwide and generated $105 million in revenue in 2021. Mark owns shares in many businesses, including the bottled water company Aquahydrate, the sports nutrition firm Performance Inspired, the F45 fitness company, the cricket team Barbados Tridents, and an Ohio Chevrolet dealership. Mark's most recent project is to transform Las Vegas into 'Hollywood 2.0', with 10,000 jobs to be created at a "state-of-the-art" studio.

7. Mark Wahlberg moved from Hollywood to Nevada to give his children a 'better life'

(Mark Wahlberg/Facebook)
Mark Wahlberg suddenly moved with his family from Hollywood to Las Vegas in 2023 (Mark Wahlberg/Facebook)

In 2023, Mark abruptly revealed that he was moving his four children and former Victoria's Secret model wife, Rhea Durham, from Hollywood to Las Vegas. The actor said that the decision would let his children have a "better life." However, he did mention that the state's tax benefits would enable him to open his film studio 'Hollywood 2.0'. Mark and his family bequeathed a $90 million, 30,000-square-foot mega-mansion in Beverly Hills while moving out. In Nevada, he has invested in two properties - a $16 million 2.5-acre block of land and a $15 million bungalow.

8. Mark Wahlberg leans on faith for his well-being

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Mark Wahlberg attends the NY special screening of FATHER STU at The S
Mark Wahlberg's faith is a major part of his life (Getty Images)

Right now, Mark dedicates time to focus on his "spiritual fitness" and physical well-being. In a 2018 Instagram post, he stated that he wakes up at around 2.30 am and is in prayer by 2.45 am. Although he doesn't go to Mass every day, he spends at least 15 to 20 minutes in prayer. At approximately 3.15 am, he enjoys a high-protein meal and goes to his own gym after half an hour. Following a final 15 minutes with a prayer book, Mark hits the bed at 7.30 pm. As a Catholic, the star views prayer as an opportunity to express gratitude for his blessings.

9. Mark Wahlberg's prayer app Hallow saw a spike in users following its Super Bowl ad

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 05: Mark Wahlberg attends a special screening of Father Stu with Mark
Mark Wahlberg was seen in the Super Bowl ad for the Hallow app (Getty Images)

In the Super Bowl ad for the prayer app Hallow, which allows users to pray while on the go, Mark advised viewers to stay "prayed up." As per reports, the Catholic meditation app is being used by an increasing number of Christians to pray together. The Hallow platform has gained a lot of popularity among Christians seeking to be closer to God via prayer; it experienced the biggest spike in users following the release of its Super Bowl commercial. Hallow's content includes thousands of audio-guided prayers, Bible readings, music, and meditations led by eminent theologians and clergy. 

Share this article:  Inside Mark Wahlberg's transformation: From gang life to acting and minting millions via prayer app Hallow