Column: Rick Caruso’s Latino appeal isn’t bought — it’s real. But is it enough to win?
Rick Caruso’s father was Mexican, and his mother was from El Salvador. He was born in Los Angeles, and raised primarily in San Diego because his father’s immigration status kept him from being able to obtain citizenship. He has lived in La Jolla since he was nine years old.
His father was originally from East Los Angeles, but his family eventually migrated west, to La Jolla. His parents divorced when he was a young child, and he and his mother went to live with his father’s mother, who raised his sister, brother and his half-brother, Juan.
Caruso is now 34, but he’s been living in La Jolla with his mother and two younger sisters for the past four years. He grew up in San Diego, where he was an avid sports fan and athlete, but his upbringing in La Jolla was different. La Jolla is a small community of about 3,500. The most populated zip code in California is within a 20-minute drive. But Caruso’s family, with three young daughters, didn’t have anywhere to live until he graduated from high school and went to college. His mother was single, and working in an office.
“I didn’t have a lot of money growing up,” Caruso recalls. “And we were kind of living off whatever our mom had been given during the day. And I used to work very hard, and it was, like, there was no time, you know, to sit down and read a book. And I was kind of happy just doing stuff, playing a lot of sports. I think I really had athletic genes from my great-grandfather.”
Caruso graduated from La Jolla High school in 2004, and the next year he began attending the University of California, San Diego. He graduated from the school with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2008, and immediately began working on his dream: He was going to play quarterback. But as it turns out, his NFL dream didn’t quite pan out