The Big Hustle: A Boston Street Kid’s Story of Addiction and Redemption

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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.


From the Publisher

A story of Prison, Homelessness and Mother TeresaA story of Prison, Homelessness and Mother Teresa

The Big HustleThe Big Hustle

The Big Hustle is available nowThe Big Hustle is available now

From Jim Caviezel’s foreword to The Big Hustle

‘The Big Hustle’ is an incredible story of redemption, and it reads like a come-from-behind, against-all-odds thriller.

Do yourself a favor. … Read it all.

From addiction to redemption

This is the no-holds-barred, unvarnished, and sometimes brutal true story of Jim Wahlberg, the fifth oldest Wahlberg growing up in a working-class Irish Catholic neighborhood outside of Boston

Jim Wahlberg’s first drink at age eight began a 14-year spiral of substance abuse, theft, and homelessness. Imprisoned for the second time at the age of 22, it was there his life took a surprising turn.

After years of hustling friends, neighbors, and even his own family, Wahlberg set out to hustle the prison’s priest. Instead, the priest was hustling him, offering him an unexpected opportunity to meet Mother Teresa, an encounter that set him on a course of redemption, love and hope.

Engaging and honest testimony of the struggle with addiction

Passionately conveyed ups and downs of life vividly illustrating the damage of substance abuse on individuals and families

A story of hope for every person caught in the battle for sobriety

Jim WahlbergJim Wahlberg

A note from Jim Wahlberg

“Addiction affects millions of people in the United States. I became one of those millions at the age of eight,” said Wahlberg. “The Big Hustle is my journey through tough times growing up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to becoming a devoted father, husband, activist, and filmmaker. It’s a story of forgiveness and redemption and an example of how God can use anyone’s experiences to help others.”

Today, Wahlberg is a speaker, writer, and founder of Wahl St. Productions, where he has created 10 films, including If Only (2015), The Circle of Addiction (2018), which was the recipient of the Storyteller Hope Award at the West Washington Film Festival, and his latest What About the Kids?, set to debut September 8, 2020. Wahlberg also serves as the executive director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, an organization he started with his brother Mark to serve underprivileged youth in Boston.

The Big Hustle: A Boston Street Kid’s Story of Addiction and Redemption
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