Mark Wahlberg on His Pardon Request: I'm Not Waving the Celebrity 'Magic Wand'

by Jackie Willis 8:32 AM PST, December 12, 2014
Photo: Getty Images

A suited-up Mark Wahlberg showed up on the Today show Friday to explain why he's asking for crimes he committed at age 16 to be pardoned 26 years later.

In one such crime, The Gambler actor spent 45 days in prison after pleading guilty to assault. In 1988, a teenage Wahlberg he was charged with attacking two Vietnamese-American men.

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Now, in an attempt to put the past behind him, the father-of-four has filed a petition to pardon his crime. "Of course everyone has an opinion -- is entitled to it -- on whether I'm deserving of it or not," he said. "But you know, from the day I woke up in prison realizing the mistakes that I had made and the pain that I caused people, I committed to turning my life around."

Wahlberg recalled that his lifestyle change included breaking away from the gang he was running with, and thus having to get along in (and out of) prison alone. "Going back into the community, still living in the neighborhood and having to go to the train station every day and pass those guys was a tough thing to do," he told Today.

But decades later, he's still committed to his family and community. "If I'm not granted the pardon, it will not change my commitment to working in the communities."

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Wahlberg also has a message for those thinking he'll only get off because of his fame. "People have said because of my celebrity, my success, that I'm basically waving that magic wand," he said. "It's not about that. It's never been about that. … I've always been completely open about my past. … I've been talking about it for over 25 years, since I've been in the public eye."

One person that has pardoned Wahlberg is the victim of his attack, Johnny Trinh. While it was thought that the 59-year-old Vietnamese-born man went blind in one eye due to being beat up by Wahlberg, Trinh told London's Daily Mail that he lost vision after fighting in the Vietnam War.

"I would like to see him get a pardon. He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer," he told the publication's website. "He paid for his crime when he went to prison. I am not saying that it did not hurt when he punched me in the face, but it was a long time ago."

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Trinh continues, "He has grown up now. I am sure he has his own family and is a responsible man."

Should Wahlberg be pardoned? State your case in the comments and tweet #ETnow.