In his first season with the Bengals, Green made the 2012 Pro Bowl, the first rookie receiver to make a Pro Bowl appearance since Anquan Boldin in 2003. From 2011 to 2013, Green caught more passes (260) than any other player in NFL history during their first three seasons, though this was later broken by Odell Beckham Jr.
A.J. Green is the son of Woodrow and Dora Green; Woodrow was a steel worker and truck driver and Dora, a clerk at a Wal-Mart. When A.J. was age 4, his only sibling, older brother Avionce, died in a car wreck on the way to a school carnival; the wreck also left their aunt paralyzed. Green was on his elementary school's juggling team, telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he learned to juggle as early as second grade. Green said he could juggle as many as four items at once, and that the ability helped the development of his hand-eye coordination.
Green attended Summerville High School, where he was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and track. He played as a wide receiver for the Summerville Green Wave high school football team, under coach John McKissick. He was widely considered to be one of the top national football prospects of the Class of 2008, and was listed #1 by Sports Illustrated. Green earned All-State honors four times and was the only junior nominated to the 2006 USA Today All-American first team following 75 receptions for 1,422 yards and 16 touchdowns during his sophomore season. Green was also selected as a member of the Rivals.com Junior All-America team based on those stats. As a freshman, he had 57 receptions for 1,217 yards and eight touchdowns. As a junior, he had 60 catches for 1,203 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Green's 5,373 career receiving yards rank second in the all-time career receiving records of the National Federation of High Schools. His 279 career receptions rank fourth. In June 2006, Green was profiled by Sports Illustrated as part of its “Where Will They Be?” stories documenting athletes with the potential of becoming a future great, alongside Peter Uihlein, John Tavares, Tyreke Evans, Elena Delle Donne, and others. Sports Illustrated compared him to the then-Oakland Raiders wideout Randy Moss and predicted Green will be in the NFL by 2011. Green was also on the school's track & field team, where he competed as a long jumper (top-jump of 19 ft 6 in) and triple jumper (40 ft 0 in).
Rivals.com ranked Green as their No. 9 prospect for the high school class of 2008, while Scout.com named Green their No. 10 prospect nationally. He participated in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Green was also on the Summerville High high school basketball team that claimed the 2007–2008 South Carolina state championship in a championship game against Spartanburg (S.C.) High. The game was played in memory of their fallen assistant coach, Captain Louis Mulkey of the Charleston Fire Department in South Carolina, who died responding to a fire with eight other firefighters on June 18, 2007.
Green verbally committed to attend the University of Georgia in October 2006, and made his commitment official by signing a letter of intent to play at Georgia on February 6, 2008. He played for coach Mark Richt's Georgia Bulldogs football team from 2008 to 2010.
Green had a solid freshman season with the Georgia Bulldogs in 2008. In the fourth game of his college career, against Arizona State, Green had 8 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. For this, he was named SEC Player of the Week. He finished the 2008 season with 56 catches for 963 yards and 8 touchdowns, all Georgia freshman school records. He also led the SEC in receiving yards, with the third-highest total in UGA school history. He was named second-team All-SEC and Freshman of the Year by the SEC coaches, and was named to the Associated Press All-SEC first team.
Green ended the 2009 regular season with 47 catches for 751 yards and 6 touchdowns, despite being injured the last three games of the season.
Green returned from injury for the 2009 Independence Bowl, December 28, 2009 in Shreveport, Louisiana where he made 6 catches totaling 57 yards.
Among other awards, Green was elected All-SEC First Team by Associated Press, SEC Coaches, ESPN, Phil Steele, and Sporting News.
Green was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 regular season after he admitted to selling his 2009 Independence Bowl Jersey for $1,000 to former North Carolina defensive back Chris Hawkins, who the NCAA described as an agent or someone who markets amateur athletes. As part of his punishment, he was required to repay $1,000 to a charity. Despite missing the first four games, Green finished the 2010 season with a team-high 57 catches for 848 yards and nine touchdowns.
On January 9, 2011, Green officially declared for the 2011 NFL Draft. He finished his three seasons at the University of Georgia with 166 receptions for 2,619 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Green was selected in the first round with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. On July 28, 2011, Green agreed to a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals worth $19.6 million. After signing with the Cincinnati Bengals, Green became a member of School of the Legends (SOTL) in 2011. Green was featured in the 2011 NFLPA Rookie Debut "One Team" Celebration which streamed live on YouTube from New York City's Cipriani Wall Street. The event was produced by SOTL, a licensed partner of the NFLPA, and employed YouTube's live streaming platform.
Green's first NFL reception was a 41-yard touchdown catch against the Cleveland Browns. By the end of his rookie season, Green recorded four 100-yard games and led all NFL rookies in receptions and receiving yards, catching 65 passes for 1,057 yards in 15 games. His seven touchdown receptions was second among rookies – one behind Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. On December 18, 2011, Green and fellow rookie quarterback Andy Dalton surpassed the all-time NFL record for yards and receptions by a rookie quarterback/receiver tandem. One week later on December 24, 2011, Green's 1,031 yards surpassed Cris Collinsworth's franchise record of 1,009 yards set in 1981 for most receiving yards by a rookie. Collinsworth still holds the franchise record for most receptions by a rookie with 67.
In Week 3 of the 2012 regular season, Green caught nine passes for a career-high 183 yards in a 38-31 win over the Washington Redskins. In Week 9, he caught a 56-yard touchdown against the New York Giants extending his touchdown streak to eight consecutive games, the longest in the NFL by a receiver and second-longest overall. He extended the streak to nine following a four-yard touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 11. On December 23, 2012, Green recorded his first career lost fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he finished the game with 10 receptions for 116 yards, including a 21-yard reception that set up the game-winning field goal. Green gained over 100 receiving yards in five different games and was selected to his second Pro Bowl in his second year in the league. He finished the season with 97 receptions for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns. In the Bengals playoff loss to Houston, he was the team's leading receiver with 5 receptions for 80 yards. In the 2013 Pro Bowl, he had 119 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Green set new career highs in 2013 for receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,426, which was the second highest total in Bengals history), while also scoring 11 touchdowns. He had six 100-yard games, including a franchise record five consecutive from Week 6 to Week 10.
Green caught six passes for 131 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown reception, in the Bengals 23-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens on opening day. In Week 2, he suffered a game-ending toe injury on the Bengals opening drive against the Atlanta Falcons, resulting in Green's first career NFL game without a reception. He returned the following week to record six receptions for 102 yards. In Week 5, he aggravated his lingering toe injury and missed the following three games. In Week 14, he exploded for 224 yards on 11 receptions (a 20.4 average) and one touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Despite missing three games and nearly all of two more, Green still recorded his 4th consecutive 1,000 yard season, finishing the year with 69 receptions for 1,041 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, his injuries ultimately forced him to miss the postseason for the first time in his career.
In Week 3 of the 2015 season, Green caught 10 passes for a career-high 227 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns in a win over the Baltimore Ravens. His 227 yards was the second highest single game total in franchise history. He finished the 2015 season with 86 receptions, 1,297 yards, and 10 touchdowns. During the AFC Wild Card game against the Steelers, he caught 5 passes for 71 yards and his first postseason touchdown reception. However, a late penalty by the Bengals loomed large, yielding elimination as the Bengals lost 16–18. He earned his fifth straight Pro Bowl and was ranked 16th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.
In the Bengals' season opener against the New York Jets, Green had 180 receiving yards, including a 54-yard touchdown as the Bengals won by a score of 23–22. On September 29, 2016, he caught 10 passes for 173 receiving yards and a touchdown during a 22–7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. On October 23, 2016, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns, with Green finishing the win with 8 receptions for 169 receiving yards and a 48-yard touchdown reception. The following game, Green finished with 9 catches for 121 receiving yards in a 27–27 tie with the Washington Redskins. Green returned in Week 10 and caught 7 passes for 68 receiving yards and a touchdown during the Bengals' 21–20 loss at the New York Giants.
On November 20, 2016, Green sustained a tear to his hamstring in the first quarter of a Week 11 16–12 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He was inactive for the next five games before being placed on injured reserve prior to the regular-season finale. He finished the season with 66 receptions, 964 receiving yards, and 4 touchdown receptions in ten games and ten starts. The 2016 season was Green's first in the NFL without over 1,000 yards receiving, coming up just 36 yards shy. Despite the injury, Green was named to his sixth straight Pro Bowl on December 20, 2016.
On March 21, 2015, he married aspiring singer Miranda Brooke, his college sweetheart. Miranda gave birth to their first child, Easton Ace Green, on September 21, 2016.