Got my first Chopper around 4 for my birthday. Still remember fighting with my brother because he wanted it. Rode the hell out of it, but never got a replacement for it. Parents gifted it to local tuk tuk driver when we moved house.
Around 13 a boy down our road got an MTB. Horrendous thing it was. Discs (like aero ones, not brakes) on the wheels, 12 speed, plastic tyres. Colour scheme could probably be described as "Neon And Blue Slushy Vomit" and probably designed by someone who'd never ridden a bike! I was so jealous. Convinced my Mum to buy me an MTB. Single speed, steel and rigid. No mountains at all around where I lived in Sri Lanka so messed about riding to classes, mates houses and such. Eventually discarded it when other sports took precedence, but not before converting it to 3 x 6 with a gear kit I bought on a trip to India! Head tube shifters and all!
Brother got a free BMX-ey kids bike with his bank account (I never had my country pegged for such a forward thinking place). It was neon pink because they didn't have anything in his size! We messed about the neighbourhood doing skiddies, endos and dumb jumps with it. Wish we had someone who could have taught us to wheelie or build proper jumps then. Probably never would have stopped riding at all! Still playing other sports at this time so didn't really get into it. There was no riding scene back home at all to sustain interest.
Fast forward 7 years to living in England. Started riding to work using a borrowed bike to save time. It got nicked. Replaced it with an MTB. Thrashed around fire roads and some rocky stuff in Somerset with my partner's family. Moved to London, bike followed, rode some trail centres with some quick guys. Realised my 21" bike was way too big for me and how unfit I was. Decided it was cheaper to improve fitness after spunking too much money trying to upgrade the bike. Convinced current partner to buy a decent MTB after she hurled her crappy hire bike down a hill on a trip to the Peak District screaming "I HATE THIS SHITE!". Sold my Crap Claud Butler gate sneakily hoping she'd not like MTB and I'd get her bike instead. Got threatened with a dumping if I didn't buy my own bike and I now own my first full susser.
Somewhere along the line I acquired a road bike (impulse buy after being dumped), entered my first MTB race (which was also the very first time I rode clipless, and I'd not recommend it to anyone), went on my first overseas trip to ride some proper mountains, met some people I'd never have met if not for mountain biking, found out what Allen keys are for apart from assembling Swedish furniture and am now close to the fittest I've ever been.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane on a rainy morning OP.
TL;DR: Messed around as a kid with them. Started riding to work. Rode with some better guys. Got hooked. Love it.
buzz, I hope you're at peace mate.