Aaron Donald was born on May 23, 1991, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a Defensive Tackle in the NFL.
A native of Pittsburgh, Donald grew up as one of three children in a working-class family in the city's Lincoln–Lemington–Belmar neighborhood. His father Archie introduced Aaron to workouts, seeking to provide more structure in his son's life. Aaron himself would later admit that he was "lazy as a kid". By age 14, he and his father woke up at 4:30 am and worked out for nearly two hours in the basement gym that Archie installed in the family home. Donald attended Penn Hills High School, where he played high school football for head coach Ron Graham. He was selected first team All-State Class AAAA in each of his final two seasons, and compiled 63 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks as a senior. He also started at offensive guard. He committed to hometown Pittsburgh over other scholarship offers from Toledo, Akron, and Rutgers.
As a true freshman, Donald played in all 13 games as a reserve defensive end. He recorded 11 tackles, including three for loss, and two sacks. In 2011, as a sophomore, Donald moved into the starting lineup, and turned in a breakout campaign. He recorded 47 tackles, including 16 for loss, 11 sacks and one forced fumble, and was named a second-team All-Big East selection. As a junior, he recorded 64 tackles, including 18.5 for loss, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble, earning first-team All-Big East honors. In his senior season, he became one of the most productive defensive players in the entire NCAA. He posted 59 tackles, including a career best 28.5 for loss, 11 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous All-American.
At the NFL Combine, Donald set the record for fastest 40-yard dash time for a defensive tackle with a 4.68. The record previously held by Tank Johnson, who ran a 4.69 in 2004. He drew comparisons to John Randle afterwards. Donald was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the first round with the 13th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. On June 16, 2014, the Rams signed Donald to a four-year, fully guaranteed $10.13 million rookie contract. The contract also included a $5.69 million signing bonus and a fifth-year option. On April 12, 2017, the Rams exercised the fifth-year option on Donald's contract. On August 31, 2018, after holding out all offseason, Donald signed a six-year, $135 million contract extension with $87 million guaranteed.
He has been selected to eight Pro Bowls in his eight years into the league, won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times, having won it back-to-back in 2017 and 2018, and again in 2020. Donald has been cited as one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
In the NFC Championship, his pressure of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led to a game-sealing interception as the Rams won their second NFC Championship in four seasons, by a score of 20–17. In Super Bowl LVI against the Bengals, Donald had two sacks and three quarterback hits, including the game-sealing pressure play on fourth-and-1 with less than a minute remaining that resulted in an incompletion and the 23–20 win.