Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino‘s Jersey Shore family will always have his back.
On Friday, Sorrentino, 36, is being sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to one count of tax evasion in January. Speaking to PEOPLE in April ahead of the Jersey Shore Family Vacation season premiere, the cast of the hit show weighed in on their friend’s legal case, rallying behind him as best as they could.
“I really, really hope he doesn’t wind up having to go to jail,” said Deena Cortese, 31. “When it comes to prison, I don’t think anybody is prepared for that. I’m hoping that they go easy on him. He became such a better person — and he was a villain for so long. We couldn’t even stand him, and now he’s so different. I can’t wait for people to see how much he’s changed.”
Jenni “JWoww” Farley, 32, said she calls Sorrentino “The Inspiration” instead of “The Situation” now.
“He has such a different view on life now,” she said. “I’m so proud of how far he has come.”
Indeed, Sorrentino has worked hard to turn his life around: The day before his sentencing, he celebrated being 34 months sober after battling a years-long prescription painkiller addiction.
“He’s not an a—hole any more,” said Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 30. “He’s full of life and positive energy.”
“I’m hoping for positive results for him,” she added. “And he survived a house with us raging lunatics sober and so positive, so god forbid he goes, jail should be a breeze.”
Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, 32, famously feuded with Sorrentino throughout the show’s original run — but now, he’s proud of his former foe.
“I always knew what he was doing behind cameras and nobody else knew,” he recalled. “I knew about his addictions and his bad habits, and that kind of ate at me. Because here this guy was, causing all this trouble, and it wasn’t really him. It was the demons inside of him.”
“It took him hitting rock bottom to humble him out and bring out the good person inside of him,” he continued. “Some people need that, and I’m sorry for the stuff that he’s going through — but it has made him a better person. We were very thankful that we got to live with Mike this time, and not ‘The Situation.’ ”
Vinny Guadagnino and Pauly “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio agree.
“He’s a completely different person,” said Guadagnino, 30. “I mean, Mike went from being the guy that you didn’t want to be around to being a guy that is actually uplifting and inspirational. He holds his head high — he’s more positive than me.”
DelVecchio, 38, admitted Sorrentino used to be quite the “arrogant a—hole.”
“That’s not the case anymore,” he said. “He’s like a gentleman now, he’s sweet. It’s the weirdest thing for me. Sometimes on the show I’m like, ‘Mike, can you say something negative to somebody? Please?!’ ”
RELATED VIDEO: Mike Sorrentino ‘Hoping for a Positive Result’ as Tax Evasion Sentencing Approaches
As for how their friend would handle prison?
“That’s some scary stuff, I’ve got to be honest,” said DelVecchio. “I wouldn’t wish what he’s going through on anybody. I really hope that he doesn’t have to go away. I mean, that would be the worst thing that could ever happen.”
But if it came down to it, Guadagnino said he thinks Sorrentino would “handle it better than any of us.”
“I think he would handle it better than a lot of people out there, just because his mind is very positive right now,” he said. “He accepts everything and he takes everything one day at a time. He has all the tools to get through what he’s going through.”
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