Ross was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. His mother left with his sibling when he was young, and he has stated that he remembers little about her. He lived with his alcoholic father, who was the inspiration for 3 of his songs on the Fever album.
He met Spencer Smith as children. Ross also worked with Smith's mother, a veterinarian, cleaning animal waste.
Musical beginnings (1998 - 2004):
Ross got a guitar for Christmas when he was 12, and began collaborating with best friend Spencer Smith who received a drum kit. Ross and Smith mostly covered Blink-182 songs with Ross on vocals. Their two-piece band was originally called Pet Salamander. Ross wrote lyrics to his first song when he was 14 years old.
They teamed up with Brent Wilson and another boy named Trevor Howell on guitar to form the band "Summer League" before Panic! at the Disco.
Panic! at the Disco (2004–2009):
Ross, alongside with Spencer Smith formed Panic! at the Disco in 2004, later joined by Brent Wilson and Brendon Urie. The band's debut album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out was recorded between the time frame of June to September 2005 and was released on September 27, 2005.
With much success and touring of their debut album, the band went back into the studio on October 2007 to record what would be the bands' second studio album, Pretty. Odd., which was released on March 25, 2008; the sound greatly differed to the band's debut album. This was the last studio album Ross has contributed to with Panic! at the Disco, however, he was credited for writing on Panic! at the Disco's third studio album, Vices & Virtues.
The Young Veins (2009–?):
On July 13, 2009, Ross spoke with MTV about his split from the Panic! at the Disco. He stated that "the split had been in the cards for sometime now. It just took everyone a while to realize it". Ross told MTV that he and the remaining members of Panic! at the Disco are still good friends and had recently spoken over the Fourth of July weekend. Ross spoke about his and Walker's upcoming project as well. "He and Walker are writing and recording songs (with Pretty. Odd. producer Rob Mathes) at a lightning-quick pace, and they'll soon be revealing the fruits of their labor". Soon after, their new band The Young Veins released their song "Change" onto the Internet.
On July 15, 2009, speaking to MTV, Ross described the new sound he and Walker were working on: "They're more, uh, I wouldn't want to say 'heavy,' but I guess I would have to, in the sense of, like, early garage music and Kinks and stuff. The songs are shorter and faster, and I guess they're more rock and roll than flowery stuff". He talked about how there would not be any orchestration on the album, unlike Pretty. Odd., which was heavily orchestrated. He and Walker were also recording with the help of Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet, along with Panic!'s former touring keyboard player, Eric Ronick. According to Ross, he and Walker are trying to release their new single tentatively titled, "Change". However, Ross was contractually bound to Fueled By Ramen to provide new music whereas Walker was not. He wanted to be released from his contract with Fueled by Ramen "because it doesn't seem like it's going to be the right place for this stuff, and I think everybody knows that, on both sides, [FBR President] John Janick included. It's just been taking some time to get worked out."
On October 16, Ross had an interview with MTV saying that their first record, Take a Vacation!, was done, and they were working to find a record company willing to release it.
The Young Veins were signed to One Haven Music and their debut was released on June 8, 2010. On December 10, 2010, The Young Veins entered an indefinite hiatus.
Solo project (2013–present):
In 2013, Ross released a two-track untitled demo EP as well as a couple of other songs through his official SoundCloud page. The description of the page said: "Thanks for waiting. I'm back now."
Ross's manager deleted his SoundCloud. Ross reacted by firing the manager, but went back on hiatus. In May 2018, when speaking with fans after Z Berg's prom, Ross hinted that he could release new music sometime in 2018.
Ross appeared along with former bandmates Brendon Urie, Spencer Smith, and Jon Walker in the Gym Class Heroes music video for the song "Clothes Off!!". He also appeared with them in The Cab's music video for "One of THOSE Nights", along with Fall Out Boy members Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz.
In 2011, Ross was credited as a composer on ex-band Panic! at the Disco album Vices & Virtues for the track "Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met...)", a song which was originally created while Ross and Walker were still with the band. He also recorded a song titled "Superbowl Hero" with Alex Greenwald and Michael Runion under a new band, RAM (Ryan, Alex, Michael).
Ross also provided backing vocals for "Stuck In Love", a song from William Beckett's solo EP What Will Be in autumn 2012.
In 2012, Ross featured on More Amor's single "Beach Bones".
In February 2018, Ross made a cameo appearance in Z Berg's music video, "I Fall for the Same Face Every Time". Later in May 2018, he was a musical guest at her prom.
A number of Ross's relationships have featured in his lyrics. His relationship with Keltie Knight was the theme for a number of songs on the Pretty. Odd. album. Knight later wrote a book which discussed their relationship.