Bridgewater was born on November 10, 1992 in Miami, Florida, the son of Rose Murphy. He attended Miami Northwestern High School. In his sophomore year, he replaced Jacory Harris as starting quarterback and took over a team that had been named the 2007 national champions by USA Today. He completed 97 of 160 attempts (60.6 percent) for 1,560 yards over the season, throwing 16 touchdowns with three interceptions. He also carried 45 times for 211 yards (4.7 average) and two more scores. Northwestern finished the season 13–3, falling short to Seminole High School of Sanford 28–21 in the 6A state title game.
In his junior year, Bridgewater passed for 2,546 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 379 yards and five more scores. In a late-September game against Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, he completed 19 of 24 passes for 327 yards and a Dade County record of seven touchdowns. He was named second team All-State for 6A classification and first team All-County by the Miami Herald. Northwestern finished the season 10–2, after a 29–16 loss to rival Miami Central High School.
As a senior, Bridgewater had 2,606 passing yards and 22 touchdowns despite missing parts of the season with a medial collateral ligament injury. He also rushed for 223 yards and eight more scores. Northwestern had a 9–3 record for the season, losing 42–27 to Miami Central in the 6-A semifinals, in which he threw for 436 yards and scored four touchdowns.
As a sophomore in 2012 Bridgewater started 11 of 12 regular season games. In his only non-starting action, coming off the bench while injured against Rutgers, he led his team to a win, a Big East title, and a berth to the BCS. He finished the regular season completing 267 of 387 passes for 3,452 yards with 25 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. He finished 6th in the nation in completion percentage, 8th in yards per attempt, and 7th in passing efficiency. For his play, he was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
Bridgewater and his Cardinals football team entered the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the Florida Gators as decided underdogs. Although Florida boasted the nation's #1 pass efficiency defense, Bridgewater passed for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns to become the game's MVP in a 33-23 win.
As a junior in 2013, Bridgewater completed 303 of 427 passes for 3,970 yards with 31 touchdowns and four interceptions. In his final college game against the Miami Hurricanes in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, he completed 35 of 42 passes for 447 yards three touchdowns and was named the game's MVP.
As early as April 2013, Bridgewater was seen as one of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft, alongside Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel. Reports said that, had he been eligible for the 2013 draft, he most likely would have been the first quarterback taken. At one point, he was projected by many to be the first overall pick in the draft. On January 1, 2014, Bridgewater announced that he would forgo his final year of eligibility at Louisville.
Bridgewater was selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the 32nd and final pick of the first round of the draft. The Vikings had traded their second round and fourth round picks to the Seattle Seahawks to move up and select Bridgewater. Bridgewater signed a four-year contract worth $6.85 million with a $3.3 million signing bonus with the Minnesota Vikings.
Bridgewater entered the season as the second-string quarterback, behind veteran Matt Cassel but ahead of Christian Ponder. Bridgewater made his regular season debut on September 21, 2014 against the New Orleans Saints, entering in relief of the injured Cassel and finishing the game with 150 passing yards. He was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season after Cassel, who broke his foot in the aforementioned game, was placed on injured reserve. On Sunday, September 28, 2014, he made his first regular season start against the Atlanta Falcons and won the game, in large part due to his 317 passing yards, and scored his first NFL touchdown off a 13-yard run into the end zone. After spraining his ankle during the Falcons matchup, Bridgewater was inactive for the next game against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football in Week 5. Bridgewater was able to recover for the week 6 game against the Detroit Lions. However, a weak offensive line against a strong Lions' defense led to a 17–3 rout. Bridgewater was intercepted three times, two from tipped passes, and was sacked eight times. In week 7 against the Buffalo Bills, Bridgewater threw his first career touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Despite being sacked five times and throwing two interceptions, Bridgewater helped the Vikings get a 16–10 lead over the Bills. The effort was negated only by the Bills' comeback win which put them up 17–16 with no time to retaliate. Next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bridgewater had a one-touchdown, no-interception performance; he was sacked only once. He led a game-tying drive to force overtime, where fellow first-round pick Anthony Barr made a fumble recovery on the Bucs' first overtime play, giving the Vikings a 19–13 win. His third win as a starter, a 29–26 comeback win over the Washington Redskins, broke a franchise record shared by Fran Tarkenton and Ponder for wins among starting rookie quarterbacks. Bridgewater added to this record with wins over the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and Chicago Bears in weeks 13, 14, and 17 respectively. The win over the Jets is notable for when WR Jarius Wright turned a screen pass from Bridgewater into an 87-yard touchdown, giving the Vikings another overtime win. Bridgewater finished the 2014 season with 2,919 yards passing, 14 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and an 85.2 passer rating. He played in 13 games, starting 12 of them. On January 13, 2015, Bridgewater was selected as the QB of the 2014 NFL All-Rookie team by the Pro Football Writers of America. Bridgewater also won the 2014 Pepsi Rookie of the Year award, as voted by fans.
Bridgewater threw for no touchdowns and an interception behind a struggling offensive line that allowed five sacks in the week one 20-3 loss at the San Francisco 49ers. He threw only 18 times the next game, but completed 14 of those passes for 153 yards and threw his first touchdown pass of the year to Kyle Rudolph in a 26-16 win over the Detroit Lions in Minnesota's home opener. Bridgewater had some struggles in week three against the San Diego Chargers, going 13 of 24 for 121 yards and one interception but won the game 31-14 with a strong performance by the defense and Adrian Peterson. He rebounded to go 27 of 41, 269 yards and a touchdown pass to Mike Wallace against Denver who had the number one ranked defense coming into the game. Minnesota still lost 23-20 as Bridgewater was sacked seven times. Coming off of a bye week, he threw 31 times and completed 17 of them for 249 yards with another touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, but threw two interceptions in a sloppy 16-10 win against the Chiefs. Bridgewater then had arguably the best game of his career the next week against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, going 25 of 35, 316 yards, two touchdown passes and no interceptions, including his first touchdown pass to rookie Stefon Diggs. That game was Bridgewater's fourth career 300+ yard passing game, and the second 300+ passing game of Bridgewater's career against the Lions. Bridgewater led his fourth career fourth quarter comeback at the Bears despite having a below average day going 17 of 30 187 yards one touchdown and one interception. Bridgewater went 13 of 21 for 144 yards an interception and rushing for a touchdown and two point conversion against the St. Louis Rams before he sustained a blow to the head by the Rams's Lamarcus Joyner that caused Bridgewater to leave the game in the fourth quarter. Minnesota still managed to pull off a 21-18 victory in overtime against the Rams. At home against the Chicago Bears in week 15, Bridgwater completed 17 of 20 pass attempts, four passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown in a 38-17 win, giving him a career-best passer rating (154.4). In a fight for the NFC North Division Title in week 17 against the Green Bay Packers, Bridgewater connected only 52.6% of his passes for 99 yards and an interception. Despite his career-lowest passer rating (45.7), the Vikings pulled off a 20-13 victory and won their first Division Title since 2009. On January 25, 2016, he was named to his first Pro Bowl.
Bridgewater is the youngest of four children. He is a Christian. He graduated from the University of Louisville with a degree in Sports Administration after the 2013 college football season. His mother, Rose, is a breast cancer survivor. In 2014, soon after her son was drafted by the Vikings, Cadillac donated a pink Escalade to Rose when they learned that Bridgewater had wanted to get her one since he was in the third grade.