The Life Of Aaron Rodgers: From Childhood To The NFL

Aaron Rodgers is everyone's favorite troubled football star. After a mediocre start in college –- and a lackluster draft –- the quarterback landed on the Green Bay Packers and eventually became one of the best players in the NFL. His career, though, has been marred by scandal, especially regarding his medical history and reported refusal to vaccinate himself against COVID-19.

Even more troubling than his drama on the field is his gossip-worthy personal life. Since making a name for himself in the NFL, Rodgers has also become a tabloid fixture thanks to his many high-profile relationships. When he isn't golfing with Nick Jonas or hanging out with Harry Styles, Rodgers is dating one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelorettes. He's been spotted with everyone from Olivia Munn to Shailene Woodley and Danica Patrick. Finally, after all that, there are all the rumors about his family, with whom Rodgers reportedly does not get along.

Below, we dive into all the drama and the rumors and clarify everything we know about Rodgers' rise to stardom. If you aren't a football fan, don't worry — because we dig into the personal life too.

He always wanted to play football

From day one, Aaron Rodgers knew he wanted to be a football player. According to reports, the quarterback showed an adult-like commitment to the game even as a small child. At the age of two, he could reportedly focus long enough to watch an entire football game from start to finish. Within a few years, he knew every position and had begun tossing a football around at home.

It was his love of the 49ers, his hometown team, that really cemented his desire to go pro, though. Rodgers was a huge Joe Montana fan, and it was his admiration for the football star that piqued his interest in playing QB. "Being right-handed, obviously I thought I was Joe," he joked during an interview with NBC Sports

While Rodgers makes it seem easy, he'll be first to tell you that becoming a superstar NFL player is anything but. In that same interview, the future Green Bay Packers star explained that he'd been just as inspired by disappointment as he had been by his idols. "I thought I was going to go No. 1 and didn't," he said of the 2005 draft in which he was picked number 24. "That motivated me for a number of years."

Aaron Rodgers quit football for baseball

While Aaron Rodgers had always dreamed of going pro and becoming a renowned quarterback, fate almost had different plans. In his senior year of high school, he realized he wasn't good enough on the field to be recruited to any major division one football programs — so he changed sports and turned to baseball for the first time in five years. Rodgers was a natural on the mound and could pitch up to 91 miles per hour.

Evidently, changing his approach worked. Rodgers was recruited by the local Californian school, Butte Community College, where he joined their football program as a freshman. According to ESPN, the coach, Craig Rigsbee, thought the aptitude he showed at baseball would translate well to the football field. In fact, he had such a strong belief in Rodgers' potential as a quarterback that he grudgingly agreed that the young star could play the game in his own style. 

Football had seemed like a non-starter for Rodgers — suddenly he was back on the field and had never loved the sport so much. Speaking to The Washington Post, Rigsbee mused, "When he looks back on his life it'll seem like total chaos. But it came together perfectly." On the contrary, Rodgers told the outlet, "[It was] the most important year of my football career." After playing for Butte, Rodgers transferred to Berkeley where his star began to rise until he eventually landed in the NFL — and, well, you know the rest. 

He was a college football star

During his debut season at Berkley, Aaron Rodgers became a breakout star. Thanks to his leadership, the California Golden Bears defeated Virginia Tech in a 52-49 win at the Insights Bowl. By the time his senior year rolled around, it was clear that Rodgers was going to do great things. Renowned for being one of the greatest players in the team's history, Rodgers enjoyed such notable achievements as a 5,469 throw and completing 64% of his passes. During his final season with the team, he led the team to a 10-2 winning streak, only losing once to USC. However, although the team lost, it's worth noting that he tied an official NCAA record during the game by throwing 23 consecutive completions.

Even though Rodgers went on to become a big-time NFL star, he never forgot his days at Berkeley. In 2019, he made a seven-figure donation to the school's athletic program. "My years at Cal were among the best years of my life," he said in a statement published by Bleacher Report. "My time in Berkeley created lasting, unforgettable memories."

Aaron Rodgers almost wasn't drafted

Given his incredible college success, Aaron Rodgers was expected to be an early first-round draft pick. But he wasn't. The future MVP watched as 20 other players were called ahead of him. Having been passed up by his dream team, the San Francisco 49ers, Rodgers went to the Green Bay Packers. Per The New York Times, the team's general manager, Ted Thompson, noted that they'd assumed the top player would be snapped up early on in the draft. When he wasn't, they hastily scouted his work, eventually taking him at 24. 

Even after landing in Green Bay, it wasn't necessarily smooth sailing for Rodgers. After all, it took over three years for him to start for the team. During that time, his dedication to improving his craft was absolute, and he focused on sharpening his dexterity and coordination as a quarterback. When he wasn't on the field, he was in a small dark room going over every play from the Packer's previous seasons.

By the time Brett Farve had left the team, and it was Rodgers' turn to take over, he was confident he'd put in enough work to finally be a great quarterback. "There's always pressure on a first-round pick," he said during a 2022 post-game interview. "... I needed the years [that Farve was playing] to get to where I was at."

His 49ers heartache

Having grown up near San Francisco, there was one pick that he wanted to be drafted by when he went pro — and that was his home team, the 49ers. Unfortunately, the team didn't feel the same way. When the Niners had the first pick of a new quarterback in 2005, they were divided between Rodgers and Alex Smith. The latter player had a better reputation and an undefeated season under his belt, but Rogers was a rising star and a known fan. It would have been full circle for the young quarterback who had spent his entire career playing in California to land on the Bay Area team. 

Ultimately, the Niners went with Smith. However, while they've never commented on it, the team may possibly regret their decision. Under Smith's leadership, the team never made it to the Superbowl. Meanwhile, Rodgers won the 2011 Super Bowl and got the Packers to the playoffs multiple times. When asked if he was disappointed by the Niners' decision on that fateful draft day at the onset of his pro career, Rodgers confidently quipped, "Not as disappointed as the 49ers will be that they didn't draft me." When he's right, he's right.

Aaron Rodgers won multiple MVPs

He may not have been a first-round draft pick, but he proved his naysayers wrong by winning some of the most coveted awards in the NFL — on repeat. In 2011, 2014, 2020, and 2021, Rodgers was named MVP — placing him just two wins behind breaking Peyton Manning's record of a whopping five MVP wins. While he was obviously delighted with the award, some of the accolade's shine may have seemingly begun to wear off. When accepting his 2021 award, the NFL star didn't have a lot to say. But hey, maybe it's about quality, not quantity. "The latest one always feels the sweetest," he shared. "So many great memories from the season and great guys I got to play with."

As for the fans, they had a bit more to say, taking aim at his sartorial choices for the evening. Rodgers wore a light brown corduroy suit for the occasion and slicked back his trademark shoulder-length hair. Many fans found the ensemble consuming. One shared an image of Dwight Shute alongside Rodgers' look on Twitter, and wrote, "Am I the only one who saw the similarity here?" Meanwhile, another quipped, "Only in America can an old couch die and be reincarnated as the NFL MVPs suit."

His brother put him on blast

It's no secret that Aaron Rodgers and his family don't get along. The dysfunction made it to the mainstream in 2016, when Aaron's brother, Jordan Rodgers, appeared on "The Bachelorette" and claimed that he and Rodgers do not talk. Their eldest brother, Luke even chimed in during an episode to clarify that the quarterback wasn't just on bad terms with Jordan, but with everyone in the family. "It pains both of us, like, not to have that relationship [with Aaron] – we miss our brother," Luke said (via Us Weekly). 

Some have claimed that Rodgers fell out with his family after speaking publicly about moving away from his strict religious upbringing. "They were dismayed," a source claimed to People. "The family is very dedicated to their Christian faith ... To them, his comments are basically a slap in the face to the fundamentals of who they are. It's basically him turning his back on everything they have taught him."

While we may never know what happened between Rodgers and his family, we can report that as of 2022, they appear to be on the mend. A source told the outlet that after a difficult few years, two breakups, and a vaxxing scandal, Rodgers was ready to bury the hatchet and reconnect with his people. "It's very hard for Aaron, who feels like his circle is very small, and it's not filled with the people who should be in his corner," the source said. 

Was Olivia Munn the source of the feud?

Aaron Rodgers' family feud has always been a sore spot for him. While we may never know exactly how the conflict started, one popular rumor posits that Rodgers' family couldn't stand his ex-girlfriend, the actor, Olivia Munn. A source claimed to Us Weekly that his family had raised concerns about whether the "Magic Mike" star had ulterior motives for the romance. "That made him furious, and he ended up choosing Olivia over his family," the source alleged. According to People, others had insisted that Munn had nothing to do with the family feud and that she would have even been supportive of Rodgers mending fences with his family. 

After a little over two years together, Rodgers and Munn broke up just months shy of speculation that they had gotten engaged. Whether the actor had been supportive or not, she couldn't resist throwing some shade at her would-be in-laws after she and the quarterback split. "I don't think either side of the road is clean," she said during a "Radio Andy" appearance. "I do think it's not okay when you try to stand on someone's shoulders and then throw dirt in their face, which is what I think they did with him."

Rodgers hid his heartbreak in Hollywood

After his difficult breakup with Olivia Munn, Aaron Rodgers turned to his famous friends for support. During the course of their relationship, the QB had seemingly become tight with Hollywood stars like Chris Pratt and started spending increasing amounts of time in Los Angeles. When he split with Munn, he relied on those connections to get him through the hard times. A source even suggested to Us Weekly, "He's been getting weekly facials in Beverly Hills and has also hired Ryan Gosling's personal stylist to dress him." His teammates definitely took note of the change and of Rodgers' absence from their usual hangs. "The only time we've seen Aaron this offseason is on TMZ leaving Catch,'" an insider quipped the outlet. Rodgers even started training with other Hollywood buffs, including Nick Jonas – with whom he developed a close friendship. Besides hitting the gym, Rodgers and Jonas have been pictured golfing together numerous times, including at the 2014 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.

He moved on with Danica Patrick

Following his relationship with Olivia Munn, Aaron Rodgers cemented his reputation as a heartbreaker thanks to his romance with racecar driver, Danica Patrick. In July 2020, the couple broke up after more than two years together. Like his previous relationship, it was rumored to have been spurred on by the ongoing conflict between Rodgers and his family, which Patrick purportedly found to be at odds with her own values, according to Us Weekly.  

While it's unclear exactly what caused the split, it was evident that Patrick took it hard. "I think we learn the most about ourselves through relationships, but there's nothing like heartbreak to really throw you in the deep end of that," she said on an episode of "Running Wild With Bear Grylls" (via Page Six). In the wake of the breakup, she felt forced to take stock of her life. "As broken open as I was on the sad end, I have felt so much joy in so many more instances and so many more unlikely places than I ever have," she reflected. 

During an appearance on the "The Aubrey Marcus Podcast," Rodgers shared that he was grateful for his time with Patrick and that he wasn't holding a grudge over anything. "That relationship was great for me because she is on her own journey and spirituality is important to her," he mused. "We both were finding our way." Rodgers seemingly bounced back fast, moving in with a new girlfriend just a couple of months later.

He made headlines with Shailene Woodley

While it's unclear when exactly in the Summer of 2020 Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley first met and started dating, one thing was clear — things moved fast. As the "Big Little Lies" told Shape, the new couple chose to quarantine together. "Starting a relationship where you immediately move in with someone — because it's a pandemic and you can't just get on a plane and go back and forth on weekends — taught us a lot about each other very quickly," she explained. "We jumped in headfirst and got some of the sticky bits out of the way early." 

Well, not all of the sticky bits. By February 2021, they were engaged. However, almost exactly a year later, they'd called things off — for the first time, at least. However, during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show" (via People) at that time, Rodgers spoke in the present tense when referring to Woodley as his partner, spurring speculation that things weren't entirely over. "When you meet your person, life just changes," he gushed while speaking about the actor.

Just a few months later, they were spotted all over SoCal hanging out alone and with friends, according to Us Weekly. However, their second shot didn't stick, and the pair broke things off for a second time. People reported that their respective busy schedules caused obstacles, with a source claiming that Woodley was purportedly unhappy that Rodgers always had the final say in the relationship. 

Aaron Rodgers prefers a holistic approach

When Shailene Woodley and Aaron Rodgers got together, they immediately bonded over their devotion to holistic health. Their actor has been very open about her crunchy lifestyle and how it changed her approach to health and well-being. For instance, in 2014 she made headlines after writing a piece for Into the Gloss in which she claimed that eating clay was good for the body and detoxifying (it isn't). As for Rodgers, he seems to be just as invested in Woodley's often unconventional approaches to healing

During an appearance on the "The Aubrey Marcus Podcast," the quarterback discussed how using the psychoactive brew, ayahuasca, improved his mental health. "It was all about a major ego death," he recalled. "It was going to the depths of my soul and hearing and feeling all that self-criticism, all that doubt, all that judgment that I placed on myself, and sitting with it." He added that the experience led him to enjoy the best season of his career. 

On an episode of "The Pat McAfee Show," he further elaborated that taking ayahuasca completely altered his perception of fear and death, by showing him a glimpse of the unknown. "When you've seen the other side, it makes the idea of death more of a passage and less of an ending and more so the next chapter of life," he shared.

His vaccination status caused controversy

These days, the name Aaron Rodgers is almost as synonymous with the phrase "anti-vax" as it is with "quarterback." When COVID-19 vaccines began to roll out in 2021, the NFL encouraged all their players to get the shot. However, when publicly questioned about the matter, Rodgers simply assured his fans, "I'm immunized." You may note there that Rodgers did not claim to be vaccinated, but rather that he simply claimed to be incapable of contracting the illness. Cut to November, and the athlete missed a major Packers vs. Kansas game because he had tested positive for the illness. Bowing to public pressure, Rodgers admitted that he was not immune to the virus and that he had never been vaccinated.

During an appearance on "The Joe Rogan Experience," he suggested that he chose the wording of his response concerning his vaccine status carefully. He also had answers prepared for any potential follow-up questions — however, he wasn't pushed for any further clarification regarding it. "So, then I go into the season with them thinking — some of them — that I was vaccinated," he explained. Rodgers also downplayed any rumors of refusing the vaccine because of a bias against vaccinations. Instead, he insisted he was allergic to an ingredient in it, making it impossible for him to receive, regardless of his beliefs about medications.

Aaron Rodgers lives to give

Still, at least when it comes to giving back to his community, Aaron Rodgers is an all-star. While the 49ers may not have drafted him all those years ago, he's regardless spent much of his adult life giving back to the hometown that nurtured him. 

In 2021, after a tough year of COVID-19 lockdowns and wildfires ravaging Northern California, he founded the "Aaron Rodgers Small-Business Covid-19 Fund," with the aim of helping struggling businesses within his home state. That year, Rodgers spent two weeks as a guest host on "Jeopardy!" and all the winning from his stint went to the organization. Overall, Rodgers raised $1.5 million from fans and supporters and donated another $1.2 out of pocket for the cause. Additionally, Rodgers donated $1 million to the NVCF to help fight wildfires in the area.

Through his $1.2 million grant, Rodgers was able to help 80 small businesses and restaurants stay afloat during the worst of the pandemic. Rather than outsourcing the work, Rodgers watched or read almost every application that came in for his grant — and was moved by all of them. "In the applications and the videos, it was heart-wrenching to hear about all the obstacles facing restaurants and retail establishments," he said in a statement, per Packers.