Music Icon Johnny Mathis on Nearly Going to Olympics With NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell

Tonight on PBS, I'm joined by legendary singer Johnny Mathis. The music icon has blessed us with his voice for nearly sixty-years, making him Columbia Records' longest running recording artist. To celebrate his 80th birthday this month, Legacy Recordings and Columbia are releasing a four-disc set which brings together, for the first time, every Mathis recording issued for the singles market. The anthology is called, appropriately, Johnny Mathis: The Singles.

Though he has become one of music's most enduring talents, Mathis was also a superlative athlete in his high school and college years. In the clip below, he tells the remarkable story of how his path nearly took him to the 1956 Olympics with his classmate, basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell.

For more of our conversation, be sure to tune in to Tavis Smiley on PBS. Check our website for your local TV listings: