Born in a small town in Texas, Rudy Youngblood grew up with two younger sisters; they were supported by their mother, as their father was not around. At the age of ten, he started working at construction jobs and learned skills and stories from the men. He has learned carpentry, brick laying and other skills. He went to local schools, and was competitive in boxing and track in high school. He frequently went to movies and became a fan of film. Upon graduation, he was offered Fulbright scholarships to major colleges in both art and track and field, but he chose Native dance instead. He has performed with the American Indian Dance Theatre.
Going to a general casting call, Youngblood was selected by the director Mel Gibson to play the leading role of Jaguar Paw in the epic filmApocalypto (2006), about the ending times of Mayan culture. He learned the Yucatec Maya language in order to appear as a tribesman in the film, in which all dialogues were in Mayan.