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Mark Wahlberg

Forgiving Fame

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By Brian Hurwitz

When you live in the public eye, every aspect of your life is subjected to intense scrutiny. Thanks to 24-hours news channels and social media, that scrutiny ensures whatever you do and wherever you do it will be explored and exploited by a public as hungry for inspiration as they are for scandal. When celebrities do something good, they're praised. When they do something bad, they're demonized. Yet unlike members of the general public, celebrities are often afforded the opportunity to redeem themselves by continuing to share the talents that made them famous. And the more they achieve as a result of those talents, the greater the distance they're able to place between themselves and the crimes for which they were accused or convicted.

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Casey Affleck
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Years before Mark Wahlberg was an A-List movie star, he was accused of violating the civil rights of three Black children and charged with attempted murder after brutally beating an Asian man which left him blind in one eye. Despite details of the incidents being made public, Wahlberg continued to be embraced by his fans. The same can be said for Robert Downey Jr. after his three arrests for drug possession. Just one would be enough to derail most careers, but because of his renowned dramatic talent friends and fans were more interested in seeing him get help than a prison sentence.

And while his crimes were non-violent, Robert Downey Jr.'s three arrests for drug possession would've have been

Ray Lewis
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At the height of his career, superstar football player Ray Lewis and two of his friends were indicted on charges of murder and aggravated assault. Lewis ultimately struck a plea deal and gave evidence against those friends in exchange for 12 months probation. The following year, he was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. Adrian Peterson made a number of extraordinary achievements on the football field, yet when he was charged with child abuse for severely disciplining his young son, his career seemed to be in jeopardy. However, he avoided jail time and, following a short suspension from the NFL, was welcomed back to the game which he still plays.

Ted Kennedy
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At the time of his passing, Ted Kennedy was hailed as "the lion of the senate" in the wake of his 40 years of public service. Decades earlier, he was responsible for the death of young woman when he lost control of the car he was driving and it plunged into an inlet. Kennedy swam to safety as the unconscious woman drowned. He did not report the accident until nine hours later, but only received a two month suspended sentence for the incident. And even after former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was convicted of multiple drug offenses, he successfully mounted a comeback and was reelected Mayor of that very city.

Sean Penn
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Michael Jackson lived in the shadow of several accusations of child abuse and endangerment for years, yet continued his reign as the undisputed King of Pop until his passing. Police caught Tim Allen with over a pound of cocaine, yet he left his conviction for drug possession behind him and built a legendary career as a comedian and actor. Before two arrests for assaulting paparazzi, actor Sean Penn was arrested for felony domestic assault against his first wife, Madonna. None of those charges appear to have damaged his career which, thus far, has netted him two Academy Awards.

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