Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg has earned his high school diploma at age 42. The two-time Academy Award nominee, worth over $200 million, had a long and difficult journey to attain his high school General Education Development (GED) diploma. Wahlberg dropped out of school in the ninth grade after he was charged with attempted murder, Yahoo! Finance reports.
"It's also a huge sense of relief. I wondered, 'Why didn't I do it when I was there?' It's so much harder at 41 going back and trying to do all these difficult tasks," Wahlberg told People magazine on Monday at an event in in Irvine, Calif., for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, during which he presented scholarships to select Taco Bell employees.
During his teen years, Wahlberg was part of a Boston gang that led him to a life of crime with street fighting, stealing cars, drug dealing, and even an attempted murder charge. At the age of 16, the actor attacked two Vietnamese men without any provocation, attacking the first man with a stick and punching the second, according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Superior Court official record.
“Wahlberg ran up to Hoa Trinh, put his arm around Hoa Trinh’s shoulder and said: 'Police coming, police coming, let me hide.' After a police cruiser passed, Wahlberg punched Trinh in the eye, causing him to fall to the ground,” read the record.
The second man punched by Wahlberg was left permanently blind in the process, which resulted in the actor’s arrest and charge for attempted murder. Wahlberg’s sentence was later reduced to criminal contempt with a maximum sentence of 10 years, according to Biography.com. He pleaded guilty and was given a two-year sentence at Deer Island House of Correction in Boston, but the teen only ended up serving 45 days.
"My circumstances were not unlike millions of other teens today, who live in tough working class neighborhoods surrounded by drugs, violence and crime, and who struggle to stay on the right path without positive influences," Wahlberg wrote to the Huffington Post.
The married actor and father of four has partnered up with organizations like the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens to make a difference in the lives of high school teens who need help overcoming life’s obstacles. The Taco Bell Graduate for Más program provides tools, support, and a community that can steer these kids in the right direction.
“Through my work with Taco Bell, I was able to meet with teens in these communities across the country, who are overcoming extraordinary obstacles to graduating high school. I've heard their stories — stories of family trouble, poverty and crime — yet I also hear strength from our nation's young people,” said the actor to the Huffington Post.
The Taco Bell Foundation has extended its commitment to help teens by partnering with ed2go and Smart Horizons for their Career Online High School (COHS) that funds high school completion and career certificates for Taco Bell Team Members.
"Like me, they will return to high school via online classes. I can only hope their experience will be as positive as mine," said Wahlberg.
The 42-year-old actor completed his high school degree by completing online courses and hiring a tutor who helped the actor between takes on the set of the film Two Guns, in which he co-starred with Denzel Washington. Wahlberg revealed that he kept this information under wraps because he was afraid he would not finish pursuing his high school diploma. However, the actor did earn his degree and is now a graduate of class of 2013.
“You are not alone. I can now look at my kids every day knowing that I didn't just do this for me — I did it for them, and I did it for all the other teens and adults who have inspired me by their commitment to graduate," Walhberg told teens.