Ethnicity: His father was of half Swedish and half Irish ancestry, and his mother is of Irish, English, and French Canadian descent.
Born in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, he is one of nine children, with siblings Arthur, Jim, Paul, Robert, Tracey, Michelle, Debbie, and Donnie Wahlberg. His mother, Alma Elaine (née Donnelly), was a bank clerk and nurse's aid, and his father, Donald Edward Wahlberg, was a Teamster who worked as a delivery driver; the two divorced in 1982. Wahlberg is of Swedish, Irish and French Canadian descent. Wahlberg had a Catholic upbringing and attended Copley Square High School (but never graduated) on Newbury Street in Copley Square in Boston.
As a young teenager, Wahlberg described himself as a troubled child who often participated in acts of violence and vandalism. He later claimed to have been in trouble 20-25 times with the Boston Police Department as a youth. By the age of thirteen Wahlberg had developed a serious addiction to cocaine and other substances. At fifteen he harassed a group of African American school children on a field trip by throwing rocks (causing injuries) and shouting epithets. When he was sixteen (again using racist language) after robbing a pharmacy under the influence of PCP, Wahlberg knocked a middle aged Vietnamese man unconscious, left another Vietnamese man permanently blinded in one eye, and attacked a security guard. Wahlberg has said that he has no recollection of the incident because he passed out just before the police caught him. For these crimes, Wahlberg was charged for attempted murder, pled guilty to assault, and was sentenced to two years in jail at Boston's Deer Island House of Correction, of which he served 45 days.In yet another incident, a 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack.
After prison, he decided to improve his behavior. Of this he has said,
"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."
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."
On 26 November 2014, Wahlberg filed an application in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requesting a full and unconditional pardon from his prior convictions. His pardon application engendered some controversy.According to the BBC, the debate about his suitability for a pardon is still ongoing with the arguments on both sides being far-reaching and complex.One of Wahlberg's victims, Trinh, has pledged to make a written statement supporting a pardon.There is also an ongoing petition to the Massachusetts governor to deny Wahlberg's pardon.