Brendon Ayanbadejo was born in Chicago to a Nigerian father and an American mother. He has one older brother, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, also a professional football player. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Nigeria, but after his parents separated, he returned to the United States with his mother, settling in Chicago and then Santa Cruz, California. He attended Santa Cruz High School.
For college Ayanbadejo enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he played college football for the UCLA Bruins. He was first-team all-Pac-10 his senior season with four sacks against arch-rival USC's Carson Palmer. He majored in history.
Ayanbadejo was originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League as an undrafted free agent on April 23, 1999. He entered the draft 5 times before he was picked up by the Falcons. He served on the practice squad of the Falcons and the Chicago Bears before being picked up by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League in 2000, and spent time with them and the Toronto Argonauts. He played the 2001 season with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe, and played for the BC Lions of the CFL in 2002. For September 2002, the CFL named Ayanbadejo the Defensive Player of the Month for recording two interceptions, six special team tackles, 21 defensive tackles, one pass deflected, and two recovered fumbles.
In 2003, he returned to the NFL as a member of the Miami Dolphins. In 2004, Ayanbadejo made a play that led to one of the biggest upset comebacks in Monday Night Football history. While getting sacked, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw the ball up for grabs. Ayanbadejo caught it for the interception, and the Dolphins went on to win the game by one point.
During the 2005 offseason, Ayanbadejo was traded to the Chicago Bears. Ayanbadejo was selected to consecutive Pro Bowls as a special teamer in 2006, 2007, and with the Ravens in 2008.
On March 6, 2008, Ayanbadejo signed a four-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens. He again made the Pro Bowl that season for his special teams contributions. In 2009, Ayanbadejo began to contribute more on the Ravens defense. In week three against the Cleveland Browns, Ayanbadejo recorded six tackles, one of which was for a loss, a sack, and an interception. For his effort, he was awarded AFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 3).
In 2013 Brendon Ayanbadejo won the AFC championship playing for Baltimore Ravens against the New England Patriots. The Ravens went on to play Super Bowl XLVII on in February 2013 against the San Francisco 49ers and won 34-31, becoming Super Bowl champions.
Outside of football, Ayanbadejo wrote for the Santa Cruz Sentinel his first couple of years in the NFL. He has advocated for the passage of the FIT Kids Act, federal legislation that would require school districts to report on students' physical activity and to give youngsters health and nutritional information.
Since 2009, Ayanbedejo has advocated for legalizing same-sex marriage. In 2012, Ayanbedejo publicly announced that, as the son of interracial parents whose own marriage would have been illegal in 16 states prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967, he had no intention of remaining silent on an issue of conscience and public importance. Ayanbadejo has since said that he has received widespread support in the world of football. In February 2013, Ayanbadejo and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe filed a joint amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage, particularly in the case dealing with California Proposition 8.
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