When Jim Wahlberg went to prison the second time at 22 years old, he was sentenced to six to nine years for breaking and entering, bargained down from life for home invasion. He had staggered into a Boston cop’s apartment, helping himself to the sellable stuff and all the beer in the fridge. The cop came home, found Jim passed out at the kitchen table, beat the hell out of him, and arrested him.
But Wahlberg, a 130-pound kid from Dorchester, had learned some things from his life on the street and his first prison sentence. He knew how to survive. And he knew that if he wanted to avoid serving the full sentence, he would have to do something.
He did what he was best at: He hustled. He would create the illusion that he was trying to change, that he’d become the model prisoner, not a guy hell-bent on getting out while he was still young enough to drink more, steal more, and do more drugs.
He didn’t know, though, that the Catholic priest he was trying to hustle was actually hustling him.
The Big Hustle is the story of a redeemed life and a family’s healing. This is the no-holds-barred, unvarnished, and sometimes brutal true story of Jim Wahlberg, the fifth of nine kids growing up in a working-class Irish Catholic neighborhood outside of Boston, hustling for attention any way he could get it, which led him to the biggest hustle of his life. Against all odds he got clean, he got out, and he got the girl. Jim dedicated his new life as a former addict to working with addicts, and for years has spread the word that recovery is possible.
But nothing could have prepared him for what came next. His discovery that his own son was an addict threw Jim into a crisis—one that led him deeper into his faith and led to healing he never thought possible. This book is a testament to God’s power and an invitation to all of us to hope in the darkest places.
About the Author
Jim is the fifth oldest Wahlberg. Like his brothers Donnie and Mark, Jim recovered from his tough upbringing in the streets of Dorchester to become producer, writer, and director of films, including The Circle of Addiction, What About the Kids?, and The Lookalike. Jim is the executive director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, created to improve the quality of life for inner city youth through a working partnership with other youth organizations.
Jim and his wife live in South Florida and have three children.
About Jim's Work
The far-reaching effects of addiction are ripping through communities across the country. In his new film What About the Kids? writer and director Jim Wahlberg gives us a poignant look into the true cost of this epidemic through the eyes of Chloe, an 8-year-old girl whose parents are addicted to opioids. Informed by his own battle with addiction, Wahlberg’s film is a touching narrative that illuminates the importance of faith and family on the journey to sobriety. To learn more, click here.
Kevin Lowry’s journey to Catholicism is fascinating, often funny, and demonstrates God’s unfailing, patient love for all of us.