Aaron Watson isn’t interested in what someone else thinks he should do. But instead of getting lonely as he sidesteps expectations, he’s gaining followers––hundreds of thousands of them. Delivered with a warm smile and fueled by a wild spirit, Watson’s rebellion echoes the land that helped make him.
It doesn't take more than a second or two after meeting country-rock musician Ray Johnston to figure out he's one determined dude. Though his motto is "smile hard," he seems to live by a more famous mantra: "Failure is not an option." Determination drove the lanky Montgomery, Ala., native to make good on his childhood pledge that he would one day play pro basketball; he wound up joining the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent in 2004. It's what helped him turn his passion for music into his post-basketball profession, leading the Ray Johnston Band, which just completed a new album, AGAINST THE GRAIN. And most of all, it's what kept him going as he battled leukemia. Five times.