What guides my strategy is my love for the human spirit and connecting what we do to how people live their lives. I never viewed it as a complicated formula.
Caruso received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern California in 1980, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and a law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 1983 as a Margaret Martin Block Scholar. In 1995, he was recognized as the Alumnus of the Year by Pepperdine School of Law.
In 1985, at the age of 26, Caruso was named by Mayor Tom Bradley to serve as a commissioner for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, becoming the youngest commissioner in the history of the city.
In 1987, he founded Caruso, a company that develops, owns and manages properties such as The Grove at Farmers Market in Los Angeles, the Americana at Brand in Glendale, the Commons at Calabasas, the Promenade at Westlake, 8500 Burton Way and the Waterside Marina Del Rey.
In 1995, Caruso was named Alumnus of the Year by Pepperdine School of Law.
In August 2001, Caruso was appointed by Mayor James K. Hahn to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners and was elected its President. In this role, he led the selection process that resulted in the hiring of former New York City police chief william Bratton as the Los Angeles chief of police. During Caruso's tenure as President of the Police Commission, the crime rate in Los Angeles dropped 37.3% from 2002 to 2006.
In 2008, Caruso was elected to serve as a member of the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, which oversees the operations of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and nearby Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. During his tenure on the commission, Caruso advocated for its reform, including the resignation of its general manager, and the replacement of the commission itself with a new governing body. He advocated a ban on rave parties at the two venues.
In 2013, the Foundation pledged $5 million to Operation Progress, a Watts-based non-profit founded by Los Angeles Police Department officers, which will guide more than 200 students from elementary school through college graduation. The pledge creates a new "ecosystem of opportunity" led by Operation Progress in collaboration with three area Catholic schools, South Central Scholars, Helping Young People Excel, and STRIVE.
In 2015, Caruso and his wife Tina donated a further $25 million to USC, to endow and name the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. He sits on the board of the National Institute of Transplantation and is on the Board of Saint John’s Hospital and The California Medical Center Foundation.