Singer-turned-actor Mark Wahlberg is starring in "Patriot's Day," a new movie based on the true-to-life event of the Boston Marathon bombings and how the city came together after the terror attack.
Wahlberg said he grew up in Boston, but he never felt as proud of the city as he did after the people of the city all came together after the ordeal. "It filled me with such pride to call myself a Bostonian. I kind of beat my chest for reasons other than what Larry Bird did, or the Patriots do. This love and strength is so powerful, and knowing that we can still come out after a horrible event and radiate this love is special for me," he told PEOPLE.
Wahlberg did not have the best memories of the city growing up since Boston's public school system was going through a mandated period of desegregation back in the 70s and 80s. He was also the troubled kid — skipping classes and constantly getting into trouble with the police.
When he turned 16, Wahlberg was even convicted as an adult of assault and other charges stemming from a convenience store robbery. But thankfully, Wahlberg turned his life around. He said he's a much better person now, and he credits God for his transformation.
"I think the fact that I've been able to turn my life around and really make my mom proud and become a better person through focusing on my faith, it always gives me great sense of pride to come home," Wahlberg said.
The actor hopes that his new movie would be able to inspire today's youth, not just in Boston but everywhere else, never to lose hope and find redemption in their lives.
"I know I've made a lot of mistakes, but I've done a lot to turn my life around. And I encourage and challenge people like myself to do the same, but more importantly, I want to encourage young people growing up in that situation first and foremost to avoid the mistakes that I made. There isn't anything you can't accomplish by hard work," he assured.