Ogden was born in Washington, D.C. He received his education at St. Albans School in Washington, excelling not only in high school football but also in track and field. He was a high school All-American in both football and track. He had high school-best throws of 19.23 meters (63.09 feet) in the shot put and 56.73 meters (186.12 feet) in the discus throw.
He decided to attend UCLA instead of the University of Florida because the UCLA Bruins football coaches would let him participate in track and field. As a sophomore, he helped UCLA to the 1993 Pac-10 Championship and Rose Bowl. He later won the 1996 NCAA indoor track title in the shot put, with a personal best of 19.42 meters. Ogden had an outstanding career with the Bruins football team, starting as left tackle for four years. In 23 games during his junior and senior years, he allowed just two sacks. In 1995, Ogden received the Outland Trophy and the Morris Trophy, was the UPI Lineman of the Year, and was a unanimous first-team All-American. Ogden's father, an investment banker, told his son to accept UCLA's decision to move him from right to left tackle.
Ogden's jersey (#79) has been retired, making him only the eighth player in UCLA history to receive that honor. He was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. On December 5, 2012 Ogden, who majored in history at UCLA, was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame.
During the 1996 NFL Draft, Ogden was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round with the fourth overall choice, the first-ever draft pick made by the Ravens.
He was named a nine-time All-Pro and an eleven-time Pro Bowler at left tackle, earning trips to Hawaii in every season except his rookie year. During his career, Ogden caught two passes – both for one yard and both for touchdowns. He also recovered 10 fumbles, and recorded 10 tackles. Ogden also won a reputation for smiling. "He's a laugher," joked former New York Giants DE Michael Strahan. "You see him, you think to yourself this guy is not mean enough to handle the mean guys out there in the NFL. Jonathan would rip your limbs off, and he'd smile...and wave your arm in front of you." Ogden also threw his helmet in frustration several times.
In 2001, Ogden won a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens when they defeated the New York Giants 34–7 in Super Bowl XXXV. Ogden announced his retirement on June 12, 2008 after a career that spanned 12 seasons, all with Baltimore. His retirement left Ray Lewis and Matt Stover as the last remaining Ravens from the team's inaugural season in Baltimore. At 6' 9", Ogden was tied with fellow Raven Jared Gaither and Bengals tackle Dennis Roland as the tallest player in the NFL at the end of his playing career.
Ogden served as the Ravens' honorary captain at Super Bowl XLVII, which saw his former teammates win their second world championship.
Jonathan Ogden married Kema Hunt in 2004. He established the Jonathan Ogden Foundation to benefit inner city schools and help student-athletes take responsibility for their futures through lessons learned on the playing field, in the classroom, and throughout their local communities.
He has starred in commercials for Apple Ford, a Baltimore-area dealership, and during his playing career appeared in TV advertisements for GEBCO, a local car insurance company. He was present during the Ravens' Super Bowl XXXV reunion in 2010.
He also appeared in a 2012 advertisement with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in support of Maryland Question 7. The measure expanded gambling in the state.